Collective names for animals, real and otherwise

Robert Quick

Where the -@!# did my muse go?

Writer, dreamer, knight, shackled by entertainment . . . and people.


I am positively inclined toward collective animal names. Use one (real or that you made up) in a story. Here is a short list. More are out there if these aren't to taste. https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/99-strange-collective-animal-names


Discussion

Lampyris Noctiluca

Lampyris Noctiluca

I find this peculiarity of English to be truly fascinating! I wonder why these collective names were created. I did some research, and they seem to date back to the Middle Age and can be found in The Book of Saint Albans, printed in 1486. Since it was a teatise about hawking, hunting and heraldry, my best guess is that collective names would come in handy while hunting or talking about hunting. For instance, refrering to "a group of foxes" takes longer than simply referring to a "skulk". Perhaps it was in the interest of time...

But again, why these bizarre, seemingly randomic names? In some cases, etymology might be the answer. The word "school" in the expression "school of fish", for example, derives (or so the Internet says) from a Dutch root schole meaning "troop" or "crowd", whereas the world school in the most common sense comes from Greek schole meaning "leasure". So they merely happen to be homographs and homophones (if one believes in coincidences...), but are etymologically unrelated.

  • Posted 5 months ago
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Lampyris Noctiluca

Lampyris Noctiluca

Edit: I found more intel here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collectivenoun

Apparently, the fashion of collective names was borrowed from French and later got way out of hand. It was also meant to be a mark of erudition, rather than having a practical purpose.

  • Posted 5 months ago
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Robert Quick

Robert Quick

I love em . . . mostly. A singular of boars annoys me. I know in fantasy people have been coming up with stuff like a blessing of unicorns or a rage of dragons. I've been known to use a hentai of tentacles, or make up others on the spot. It's a strange part of the language that I love.

  • Posted 5 months ago
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Lampyris Noctiluca

Lampyris Noctiluca

Now I see what you mean! This opens up a whole word of possibilities when it comes to providing fantastic creatures with a specific vocabulary. For example, why not differentiate between a male and a female specimen, or having a word for their young offspring? Also, I really dig "a hentai of tentacles" (at least from a lexical point of view).

  • Posted 5 months ago
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nuclearsubmarine

nuclearsubmarine

I love that there is a "quiver of cobras". Reminds me of an indie PC game called "Totally Accurate Battle Simulator" that has archers that shoot snakes instead of arrows.

  • Posted 5 months ago
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  • Prompt published 5th September 2018

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