A Voyage Through Venery

Horses at Mrzli studenec on Pokljuka plateau (...

a herd of horses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To people who ask, “What is a group of [insert animals/occupations here] called?”, terms of venery are the collective nouns used to describe a grouping of like items.

While I am familiar with a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a herd of horses, a host of angels, a nest of vipers, a quiver of arrows, and a gaggle of geese, there are more that I was not familiar with, and are apropos or simply curious (understanding the etymology would be very helpful!) Here are a few of my favourites.

A charm of hummingbirds. Appropriately enough, these jewels in flight are simply an extraordinary sight (hmmm, that rhymes). Disregard the fact that the beautiful males (with their gorgeous gorgets) are among the top (or is it bottom) of the deadbeat dads of the avian world. Not so charming.

Cats, Kitten

a kindle of kittens, plus mom cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A blessing of unicorns. How can we have a term of venery for mythological creatures? It would be a miracle to see even one!

An unkindness of ravens. Continuing in the same vein with the larger cousins of crows, this collective noun certainly gives Edgar Allen Poe’s antagonist a bad rap!

A worship of writers. Apparently those who are mighty with the pen are accorded some sort of reverence, but methinks that according “upfront” respect may be a bit premature.

A pass of asses. This hardworking beast of burden has a collective noun that unfortunately rhymes with its name. It just can’t win!

A kindle of kittens. Did Amazon.com have cuteness/adorableness/a-warm-and-fuzzy-feeling in mind when they named their best-selling e-Reader as such?

A damning of jurors. If you’ve ever been called for jury duty, it certainly seems like your soul is spoken for. As well as your time and money.

An impatience of wives. Was this something that Desperate Housewives probably took to heart and exploited. That, and boredom. Not that I ever watched a single episode.

An implausibility of gnus. Gnus, unlike unicorns, really do exist. Personally, I feel that implausibility would be a more apropos term of venery for the unicorns. An immovability of gnus would be better.

A gulp of swallows. Finally! Someone with a great sense of humor was permitted the honour of naming a group of swallows as a gulp.

Need to learn more terms of venery so that you can look good to friends and family? Do what I did — a Google search!

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11 thoughts on “A Voyage Through Venery

Your comments are like chocolate for my soul ... I can never get enough of them! Bonus brownie points for witty comments! I love a good turn of phrase. :)

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