Collective Noun

By Deane Barker

Refers to the noun used to describe groups of things:

  • A herd herd of cows
  • A flock of sheep
  • A swarm of bees

This is an actual noun – you can refer to “the herd” or “the flock” or “the swarm.” I assume that most singular nouns have a collective equivalent? If it doesn’t, do you default to “group”? Here’s a big list.

Why I Looked It Up

On a phone call, someone said they “invited a gaggle of people.” It got me thinking.

Postscript

Here’s a 15-minute video about the origins of collective nouns:

Crazy collective nouns & where they came from

Postscript

Added on

I found a cartoon with dead crow in the background and a racoon in the foreground telling a group of crows:

As your lawyer, I’d advise you immediately find a new collective term.

The joke is that the collective noun for a group of crows is a “murder of crows.”

(Honestly, I have no idea why the lawyer was a raccoon.)

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