I had a funny experience last week. I was writing an article about cats and got to a point where I needed to refer to a group of them with a collective noun. I was stumped. The words “herd” and “pack” are what immediately popped to mind but were not appropriate (though I kind of like the mental picture of a “pack” of cats). Then I thought “colony,” but that only seemed appropriate for feral cats or those housed in institutional settings.


As most of us do these days, I turned to the Internet for an answer and found a fascinating site (if you’re a “wordie” like me). Dave Fellows of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center has put together a list of group names for animals. Here are a few of my favorites:


A shrewdness of apes


A sleuth of bears


An obstinacy of buffalo


A clowder or pounce of cats (No, I didn’t use either of these in my article, but I was tempted!)


An intrigue of kittens


A business of ferrets


A tower of giraffes


A bloat of hippopotamuses


A cackle of hyenas


A leap of leopards


A richness of martens


A labor of moles


A romp of otters


A prickle of porcupines


A crash of rhinoceroses


A scurry of squirrels


A streak of tigers


A wake of buzzards


A convocation of eagles


A charm of finches


A stand of flamingos


A scold of jays


An exaltation of larks


A parliament of owls


An ostentation of peacocks


A shiver of sharks (I’m going to have to find some way to use this one in conversation!)


An intrusion of cockroaches


Anybody have some they can add?



Dr. Jennifer Coates