Johuat’s mention of a “murder” of crows reminded me of a list of collective animal nouns that I saw in the “Book of Lists” one time.  I dug it up and there are some pretty great ones.  I googled them to see if they’re actually used and apparently they are.  If you happen to be trying to figure out a name for your neo-folk band right now this might be the ticket:

murder of crows
clowder of cats
leap of leopards
sloth of bears
rafter of turkeys
smack of jellyfish
skulk of foxes
labor of moles
peep of chickens
crash of rhinoceros
paddling of ducks
siege of herons
rag of colts
drift of hogs
charm of finches
trip of goats
knot of toads
shrewdness of apes
parliament of owls
troop of kangaroos
gaggle of geese
pride of lions
watch of nightingales
muster of peacocks
exaltation of larks

My personal favorites are “smack of jellyfish”, “parliament of owls” and “charm of finches”.  While I was googling them I turned up this even more exhaustive list of bird specific collective nouns, which includes different terms for when the birds are flushed out of the bushes, on the ground, or flying in a V (e.g. “bouquet of pheasants vs. “covey of pheasants”).

Is there a regulatory body for these names?  Was there?

Also, on the topic of lists, I found this list of cognitive biases while I was reading about the hacker that revealed the identity of the soldier who leaked the video (known as “Collateral Murder“) of an airstrike in Baghdad to Wikileaks.  I’m definitely guilty of every single one of them, but maybe it’s good to know that they are “official” so that I can try to avoid them.  I was struck by how many of them seem to be fundamental principles of advertising.


1 Response to “lists”

  1. 1 Allison
    September 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    You should look up a copy of An Exaltation of Larks, by the one and only James Lipton.

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