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Collective Terms for Animals

In this section is a pretty comprehensive list of collective terms for animals. Many will be familiar but others will be unheard of, deriving from 15th century witticisms or literary imagination, and some are simply archaic or erroneous. There are also some terms for pairs of animals and groups of three animals.

Sources used in compiling our list of collective terms:

  • Rex Collings, A Crash of Rhinoceroses (Moyer Bell, 1993).
  • Helen and Philip Gosse, Gathered Together (Swan Press, Chelsea 1927).
  • eds. John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 20 vols (Oxford University Press, 1989).
  • eds. Judy Pearsall and Bill Trumble, Oxford English Reference Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • Steve Palin, A Menagerie of Animals (Taghan Press, 2000).
  • The Book of St Albans (1486) attributed to Dame Juliana Barnes, as cited by Gosse. Most of these are simply witticisms, never actually in use, but were taken up by later antiquarian writers, including Strutt.
  • Ivan G. Sparkes, Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms (White Lion, 1975).
  • Joseph Strutt, Sports and Pastimes of England (1801), as cited by Gosse.
  • Brian Wildsmith, Wild Animals (Oxford, 1967). Also Fishes and Birds by the same author.

Other useful sources:

  • James Lipton, An Exaltation of Larks ( Harmondsworth, 1977).
  • C. E. Hare, The Language of Sport (Country Life, 1939).


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Collective Terms for Animals

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