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A quirk of collective nouns

many blue butterflies on a pink wall

A charm of goldfinches. An exultation of skylarks. I love these phrases even more than a murder of crows or unkindness of ravens.

Some people loath collective nouns. Fair enough, they have an aristocratic past – a medieval show of hunting knowledge and wit. I reckon we can democratise. We can use and misuse the collective nouns that tickle us, just because they do. For me, that’ll include:

a mischief of mice

an implausibility of gnus

an embarrassment of pandas

There are too many variations to take collective nouns seriously. Penguins, for example, can gang up in a raft, toboggan, tuxedo, parade, march, muster, colony, huddle, formality, parcel, pride and shiver. Nobody is going to contradict you if you say ‘a squawk of penguins’. (Even though, as it turns out, they bleat.)

So, we can make collective nouns up, right?

For starters, ‘a worship of writers’ is begging for an update. We ain’t scribes. I’m gonna say we’re a confabulation of writers. What do you wanna call us?

‘An equivocation of politicians’ also needs review, but I’m too polite to do the thinking in public. Ahem.

In the meantime, I will leave you with an argument of wizards, a glory of unicorns, and a kaleidoscope of butterflies. Happy writing!

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash


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