Glossary

All the collective nouns used in the book ‘Treasure Beyond Measure’ have been researched yet none are definitive. That’s the beauty of language -it’s constantly evolving and allows us to be as creative as we want to be when describing groups of animals. 

Collective nouns have been used in the English Language for hundreds of years. They developed from words that captured people’s imagination and were gradually accepted into to everyday language. Generally they take what we know about the animal and use a feature to describe a group. Take lizards for instance, known to lounge around in the sun – so it’s no surprise to learn that a group is called  ‘a lounge of lizards’. Similarly, giraffes are tall ;towers are tall;  so it’s logical that a group of giraffes is called ‘a tower’. However, some animals have rather unusual collective nouns, the origin of which is unknown. For example, ‘a cabinet of yaks’ and ‘an implausibility of gnus’. 

Many animals have more than one collective noun. In the book, Helen uses ‘a stand of flamingos’ but a group of flamingos is also known as ‘a flamboyance’. Either can be used. 

Some animals share the same collective noun. We know that ‘herd’ and ‘flock’ are common terms for groups of animals but there’s something special about a word that’s been chosen for a unique species. 

Other animals have different collective nouns depending on their location or activity. For instance, a group of otters on land are called ‘a romp’ yet in the water, they are known as ‘a raft’. 

Some animals don’t even have a collective nouns because they are generally solitary creatures – for example, koala and octopus – but that doesn’t stop us making up a collective noun if we really want to! 

This glossary lists alphabetically some of the terms used for many, but not all, creatures. You may find animals listed that you’ve never heard of, why not take a moment to find out a bit more about them? Or if your favourite animal isn’t listed, you could find it out for yourself or create your own collective noun for it.

aardvark

armoury

albatross

rookery, weight

alligators

congregation

ants

army, bike, colony, nest, swarm (flying)

antelope

herd, cluster, tribe

apes

shrewdness, troop

baboons

troop, flange

bacteria

culture

badgers

cete, clan, colony

barracudas

battery

bass

shoal, fleet

bats

colony, cloud

bears

sloth, sleuth,

bear cubs

litter

beavers

colony, family, lodge

bees

grist, hive swarm

bellbirds

chiming, pealing, tintinnabulation

birds

brace, dissimulation (small birds), rush (migrating), volery (in aviary)

bison

herd

bitterns

sedge, siege, pretence

bobolinks

chain

buffalo

gang, obstinacy

bullfinches

bellowing

buzzards

wake, kettle, pack

camels

caravan, flock, train, herd

capons

mews

capybara

herd

caribou

herd

caterpillars

army

cats

clowder, pounce, destruction

cattle

drove, herd

cheetah

coalition

chicks

chattering, clutch

chickens

brood, peep

chinchilla

colony

clams

bed

cobras

quiver

cockroaches

intrusion

cod

lap

coots

cover

corgi

consort

cormorants

gulp

cows

herd, kine, flink, drift, drove, mob

coyotes

band, pack, rout, run

crabs

cast

cranes

sedge, seige

crickets

orchestra

crocodiles

bask, float, nest

crows

horde, murder, cauldron, caucus, cowardice, hover, muster, parcel,

dachshunds

moxie

deer

herd, bevy (only for roe deer)

dodos

extinction

dogs

pack (if wild), cowardice (curs), leash (greyhounds), sute (bloodhounds) cry, mute, pack, kennel (for hounds)

dolphins

pod

donkeys

drove, herd, pace

dotterel

trip

doves

dule, pitying (turtle doves only)

dragons

doom, flight, weyr, wing

ducks

team, balding, flock (flying), paddling, raft (on water)

dunlins

fling

eagles

aerie, convocation, jubilee, soar, spread

eels

bed, fry, swarm

elephants

herd, memory, parade

emus

mob

elk

gang

falcons

cast

ferrets

business, cast, fesnying

finches

charm, chirm, company, trembling, trimming

fish

draft, nest, school, shoal (live)

catch, drought, haul (dead)

flamingos

stand, flamboyance, flurry, skein, regiment

flies

business, cloud, swarm, hatch, grist

flying fish

glide

fox

leash, skulk, earth, lead, troop

frogs

army, colony, knot, froggery

geese

flock, gaggle (grounded), skein (flying)

giraffes

tower, totter, stretch, herd, corps, journey

gnats

cloud, horde, swarm

gnus

implausibility, herd

goats

tribe, trip, drove, flock, herd,

goldfish

glint, troubling

gorillas

band, trip, woop

goshawks

flight

grasshoppers

cloud, cluster, swarm

grouse

pack

guillemots

bazaar

guinea fowl

confusion

gulls

colony

hares

down, husk, leap

hawks

boil (when spiraling in flight), cast, kettle (large numbers in flight)

hedgehogs

array, prickle

herons

sedge, siege

herring

army

hippopotamuses

bloat, thunder, huddle

hornets

bike, nest

horses

team, harras, rag (colts), stud horses owned by one person)

hummingbirds

charm, hover

hyenas

cackle , clan

iguanas

mess

Impalas

herd

Insects

horde, nest, plague, rabble, swarm

jays

party, scold, cast, band

jellyfish

brood, smack, fluther

kakapo

booming, rumble, trek

kangaroos

mob, troop, court, flock

kittens (cats)

kindle, litter, intrigue

lambs

fall

lapwings

deceit

larks

exaltation, ascension, happiness

leopards

leap

lice

flock

lions

pride, sault, troop, sowse

lizards

lounge

locust

plague

lynx

chain

magpies

charm, gulp, murder, tiding

mallards

sord (flying)

martens

richness

mice

mischief

midges

bite

moles

labour, company, slouch, movement

monkeys

troop, barrel, mission, tribe, cartload

moose

herd

mosquitoes

scourge

mules

pack, span, barren, rake

mussels

bed

nightingales

watch

ostriches

wobble, pride, flock

otters

bevy, family, raft, romp, ramp

oxen

team, yoke

owls

parliament, stare, wisdom, sagaciousness

oysters

bed

parrots

pandemonium, company, flock, prattle, psittacosis

partridge

covey, bevy, cover, warren, clutch, brace

peacocks

ostentation, muster, pride, pulchritude

pelicans

pod

penguins

colony, huddle, parade, parcel, rookery, waddle, icing, march

pheasant

bouquet, nest, nide, nye

pigeons

flight, flock, kit

pigs

drift, drove, team, litter (piglets), sounder (swine only) passel (hogs only), singular (for boars)

plovers

congregation, wing (when flying)

polar bears

aurora, pack

polecats

chine

ponies

string

poodles

salon

porcupines

prickle

porpoises

crowd, herd, pod, school, shoal, turmoil, gam

ptarmigans

covey

puffins

improbability, loomery

pukekos

potter, gawky

pugs

grumble

quail

bevy, covey

rabbits

colony, warren, next, herd (pets only), litter, wrack (young rabbits)

raccoons

gaze, mask, nursery

rattlesnakes

rhumba

rats

colony, pack, plague, swarm, mischief

ravens

storytelling, unkindness, conspiracy, constable, tower

reindeer

herd

rhinoceroses

crash, herd, stubbornness

roebucks

bevy

rooks

building, clamor, parliament

ruffs

hill

salamanders

congress

sardines

family

scorpions

bed, nest

seabirds

wreck, screech, squabble, flotilla

seals

bob, harem, herd, pod, spring, rockery, plump

sharks

shiver

sheep

drove, flock, herd

sheldrakes

doading

skylarks

exaltation

skunks

surfeit, stench

slugs

cornucopia

snails

escargatoire, rout, walk

Snakes/vipers

den, generation, knot, nest, pit

snipe

walk, wisp

sparrows

host, meinie, quarrel, ubiquity

spiders

cluster, clutter

springbok

herd

squirrels

dray, scurry

starling

murmuration

stingrays

fever

stoats

pack, trip

storks

mustering, phalanx, silence, swoop, flight

swallows

flight

swans

bevy, wedge (flying), regatta (on water)

swifts

flock

takahe

tussock

teal

spring, diving

termites

brood, colony, nest, swarm

thrush

mutation

tigers

ambush, streak, hide

toads

knab, knot, nest, lump

tortoises

creep

toucans

durante

trout

hover, shoal

tui

ecstasy

turkeys

gang, rafter, dule, gang, posse, raffle

turtles

bale, dole ,nest, turn

unicorns

blessing, glory, marvel

vultures

kettle (flying), venue

walruses

herd, pod, ugly

wasps

nest, swarm, pail

waterfowls

knob, plump, raft

weasles

gang, colony, pack, sneak

whales

pod, gam, herd, school, grind

widgeons

company

wildfowl

plump

wolves

pack, rout, route (when moving)

wombats

wisdom

woodcocks

fall

woodpeckers

descent, gatling

worms

bed, bunch, clat, clew, wriggle

wrens

herd

zebras

zeal, crossing, dazzle, cohort, herd, stripe