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What do you call a group of…

Did you know that there are collective nouns for many different groups of animals? Some you may well be familiar with (such as a litter of kittens or a pride of lions). Others are used less often, but would still be recognized by many people; in this category fall a gaggle of geese and a murder of crows. And then there are those words which you probably haven’t heard – did you know about a crash of rhinoceros, or a descent of woodpeckers

Many of the these words belong to 15th-century lists of ‘proper terms’, such as those in the Book of St Albans attributed to Dame Juliana Barnes (1486). Some are fanciful or humorous terms which probably never had any real currency, but have been taken up by antiquarian writers, notably Joseph Strutt in Sports and Pastimes of England (1801). You can find more information about who decides on the right collective noun for something in an excerpt from What Made the Crocodile Cry? by Susie Dent.

You can read the full list of group terms, or look at our favourites in the gallery above.

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