Tuesday 4 May 2021

A trivia of collective nouns

Four and twenty blackbirds

I have always been fascinated by collective nouns, some so interesting you wonder how they come about. On my walks a few days ago, I came across an interesting sight, blackbirds I thought were crows or even rooks had settled upon the poles of a fence, but when I was speaking to the lady with her companion that feeds the birds, the other day, I used the collective noun embarrassment which I knew was wrong and she suggested parliament.

A parliament of rooks or a murder of crows

A parliament of crows, I thought when I next went by, but it was another few days before I saw a sufficient number settle on the poles of the fences to make it necessary to take a picture and tell a story. Then, she might be correct if the blackbirds were rooks rather than crows; the collective nouns are, a murder of crows or a parliament of rooks. Apparently, the collective noun for crows comes from superstition; the belief that they are harbingers of death sent by the devil or are witches in disguise.

An embarrassment of SANs

Rightly, it is an embarrassment of pandas, but I have also applied that collective noun to SANs, SeniorAdvocates of Nigeria, senior lawyers that the influential troop to the courts to intimidate the prosecution and the bench, usually in the tens that the cost of justice is prohibitive even when the defendant is guilty as sin but has more legal firepower than the state can muster.

I will not go into the list of collective nouns, but one that anyone would love to know for trivia is the collective noun for geese, they are a gaggle of geese on land, a skein of geese in flight and a plump of geese in water. Never give the wrong collective noun to the appearance of things or you are set for, should I say, am embarrassment?


Country Life: Collective nouns for birds

Merriam-Webster: A Melody of Harpers and a Poverty of Pipers

Wikipedia: List of animal names

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