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