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

labor of moles

A romp of otters

A prickle of porcupines

A crash of rhinoceroses

A scurry of squirrels

A streak of tigers

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

Check out the entire list at the USGS website. Anybody have some they can add?

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Cherry-Merry / via Shutterstock