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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Group of Creatures: The Proper Terms

The dictionary informs me that the proper term for a group of larks is an exaltation.  Isn’t that descriptive?  An exaltation of larks!
You outdoor people probably think you’re smart and know all the terms for groups of creatures.
Let’s test your knowledge.
How about an easy one to start with?  What is a group of grouse? “Covey” you probably said thinking that was too easy.  Covey actually means “family” of grouse.  Actually, a group of grouse larger than a covey (family of 2.5) is called a pack.
To know the difference between a covey and a pack you will have to distinguish between members of the immediate family and distant relations who have moved in for a bit of freeloading.  This is not difficult since the freeloaders are the grouse that get up at noon and go around unshaven, asking “what’s for supper?”

Ok, now a little tougher.  What is the proper term for a group of ferrets?  Come on, don’t just sit there scratching your head—guess.  It is a business of ferrets.  What business are ferrets in…I think loan-sharking?

How about a group of geese?  Flock is correct, but only if the geese are standing around killing time.  If the group of geese is flying, it becomes a skein.  If the geese are on the water, they’re a gaggle.  If you said a bunch of gooses, you are banned from the contest and must now call yourself a “city folk” instead of a “nature lover.”

How about a group of elk?  They are called a gang.

A few of my favorites among the terms for groups of creatures is a crash of rhinoceros.  A group of toads is called a knot.  A group of bears is called a sloth.  Not exactly the visual I think of when I see a group of bears.

Here are a few others, just for fun:
A convocation of eagles
A charm of hummingbirds.
A skulk of foxes.
A chattering of starlings.
A mustering of storks.
An unkindness of ravens.
A siege of herons.
A leap of leopards.
A murder of crows.

When I come upon a group of anything, I call it a whole mess of them and am done with it!

Now that you have been educated about groups of creatures, try the quiz out on your friends.  No one will really care but everyone will be interested for a short while. 

P.S. No one will care if you use the wrong word for a group of animals that are licking their chops as they approach you and your friends in the wild.

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