Sunday, February 21, 2016

WHAT'S IN A NAME?








I've always been fascinated by the terms for groups of animals or birds.  

Some of these must have been kindled by the sun-drenched ennui of idle poets on a Summer’s day.  I can just see a velvet-jacketed Shelley or Burns, elbow-propped in a pollened meadow, scribbling down lofty and more improbable nouns as the day wore on, chortling at their own wit.   Well, maybe not Shelley---he was never much of a chortler, I’d think, and most likely reached his apogee rhyming “wert”  with “heart.”

Or maybe the Hellfire Club, sitting around drunk on a havoc-less off-night, when the Dogs of War had slipped clean out the pet door to howl, leaving them bored and peevish as petulant children, shouting out odd, disjointed words. 

I declare, some of these are downright unfathomable, and others, the absolute personification of the raucous, the avaricious, the greedy, the charming, and the stunningly beautiful:


A Shrewdness of Apes
A Sleuth of Bears
An Obstinacy of Buffalo
A Bellowing of Bullfinches
A Wake of Buzzards
A Pounce of Cats
A Bask of Crocodiles
A Murder of Crows




An Aerie of Eagles
A Memory of Elephants
A Cast of Falcons
A Charm of Finches
A Flamboyance of Flamingoes
A Skulk of Foxes
A Skein of Geese in flight sounds ever-so-much more graceful than a Gaggle on the ground, don’t you think?
A Tower of Giraffes
An Implausibility of Gnus
A Glint of Goldfish
A Leash of Greyhounds
A Muddle of Guinea Pigs
A Kettle of Hawks
An Array of Hedgehogs  

 

A Bloat of Hippopotamuses
A Charm of Hummingbirds
A Cackle of Hyenas
A Scold of Jays
A Cling of Koalas
An Exaltation of Larks
A Leap of Leopards
A Loveliness of Ladybugs






A Lounge of Lizards
A Tidings of Magpies
A Bamboo of Pandas
A Pandemonium of Parrots
An Ostentation or Pride of Peacocks
A Pomp of Pekinese
A Gulp of Pelicans
A Creche of Penguins
A Bouquet of Pheasants




A Puddle of Platypus
A Prickle of Porcupines
A Gaze of Raccoons
An Unkindness of Ravens, or a Storytelling, but I hear their vocabularies are quite limited.
A Stubbornness of Rhinoceroses
A Parliament of Rooks
A Harem of Seals
An Exultation of Skylarks
A Murmuration of Starlings
An Ambush of Tigers
A Pitying of Turtledoves
A Blessing of Unicorns




And my absolute favorite, charming and true in its imagery:

A KALEIDOSCOPE of Butterflies:.




5 comments:

donna baker said...

I wouldn't have guessed most of them. I did see a butterfly kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies one time on their southerly flight to Mexico. They were at all different heights; from ground level to very high in the sky all flying in front of an oncoming cold front.

Chesapeake said...

I am, unsurprisingly, in awe of YOUR wonderful way with words!

BeachGypsy said...

Im in total agreement with chesapeake above me!!!

Gayla said...

So interesting. I love to ponder those group names... Academic Bowl students have to memorize some of them...

Kim S. said...

I think my favorite might be “A Shrewdness of Apes”.

And what could be more apt than “A Pounce of Cats”?