Examples of English Collective Nouns

Will and Guy's Examples of English Collective Nouns

More Unlikely, but Funny Collective Nouns

x Means spurious

  • An absence of professors x
  • An aggregate of geologists x
  • An ambush of tigers
  • An army of frogs
  • An asylum of programmers x
  • A blessing of unicorns
  • A bloat of bureaucrats x
  • A brace of orthodontists x
  • A circus of monkeys x
  • A clowder of cats
  • A clutch of mechanics x
  • A complex of psychiatrists  x
  • A crash of rhinoceroses
  • A corps of morticians x
  • A dilation of pupils x
  • A flush of plumbers x
  • A flutter of cardiologists  x
  • A gaze of raccoons
  • A horde of savers x
  • An indifference of waitresses  x 
  • A labour of moles
  • A lot of second-hand car dealers x
  • A murder of crows
  • A nucleus of physicists x
  • A raffle of turkeys
  • A rake of mules
  • A tribe of goats
  • A thirst of Irish
  • An unkindness of ravens
  • A wake of buzzards
  • A walk of Snails

x - Not true


Ten Outtakes - Of Funny Collective NounsA cuddle of teddy bears

  1. A cuddle of teddy bears
  2. A conjunction of grammarians
  3. A promise of barmen
  4. An obeisance of servants
  5. A staff of employees
  6. A fraid of ghosts
  7. A nastiness of villains
  8. A promise of tomorrows
  9. A prudence of vicars
  10. A clique of photographers

Will and Guy feel sure you could invent your own funny collective nouns and send them to us.

The Plain English Campaign

Will and Guy recommend

Flocks, Herds, Litters & Schools by Jim McMullan

Flocks Herds Litters and Schools

The Plain English Campaign is a group that has been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979. Consider some of these examples that made Guy and Will smile:

  • Take off lid and push up bottom. [From a stick deodorant label]
  • These guidelines are written in a matter-of-fact style that eschews jargon, the obscure and the insular. They are intended for use by the novice and the experienced alike. [From the United Kingdom Evaluation Society 'Guidelines for good practice in evaluation']
  • Thought grenade [Management jargon as found in Office Angels survey - means 'explosive, good ideas']
  • This is a genuine ground floor opportunity to shape a front line field force operating in a matrix structure. [As stated on the 'Take a Fresh Look at Wales' website]
  • The delay to this service is due to low adhesive conditions. [Otherwise known as 'slippery tracks', from First Scotrail]
  • The cause of the fire was due to a malicious ignition incident that was fortunately contained to the function and meeting room area of the hotel. [News statement about a fire at a hotel]
  • Its clear lines and minimalist design provide it with an unmistakable look. It is daring, and different. So that your writing instrument not only carries your message, but lives it. [Promotional literature for ... pens]
  • Where the policy is divided into a number of distinct arrangements ('Arrangements') where benefits are capable of being taken from on Arrangement or group of Arrangements separately from other Arrangements, then this policy amendment will not apply to any Arrangements in respect of which the relevant policy proceeds have already been applied to provide benefits. The policy amendment will apply to all other Arrangements under the policy. [Policy amendment, Norwich Union]

Another Slant on the Campaign for Plain English

Football SpeakSteve McClaren has won a prize - for speaking nonsense

Steve McClaren has won a prize - for speaking nonsense. The former England manager scooped the Plain English Campaign's Foot in Mouth award for a comment about Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and England forward.

'He is inexperienced, but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through,' McCLaren said.

Will and Guy muse on football manager speak in general, and it's affect on England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 in particular.  Do the players understand their manager's jargon - but ignore it.  Or do they understand what he is saying, but are unable to act on the instructions.  Then there's the interpretation favoured by the fans, the manager does not know what he is talking about.  See more football speak


Then there is the 'Leaves on the track' cause célèbre

Other culprits singled out by the campaign, which works to stamp out unclear official information, included Translink in Northern Ireland.

Apologising for recent delays, it said, 'Every autumn a combination of leaves on the line, atmospheric conditions and prevailing damp conditions lead to a low adhesion between the rail head and the wheel which causes services to be delayed or even cancelled.'

The company added that it was committed to reducing delays by 'implementing a comprehensive low adhesion action programme.'

Airport Signs

BAA [British Airports Authority] also received a Golden Bull award for its 'passenger shoe repatriation area' sign, found at London Gatwick airport in the place where shoes are security screened.

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