Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Well, first of all, I would like to thank everybody who said they liked my "Ode to Summer" poem that I posted yesterday.  I don't want to sound too smug, but I think you will probably see this poem in literature textbooks in the future.

A clowder of cats

Today I am going to talk about something called collective nouns.  And what these are is names for several items that are all together in one place.  If you are like me, you probably mostly use ordinary words like "group," "bunch," "gang," or "gob."  But now I am going to tell you some more interesting and unusual words that you can use.  And all of these words are for animals or birds, so that makes them even better.

When I first decided to talk about collective nouns, I thought I could just make a little list for you and that would be an easy way to write a blog entry.  But guess what!  There are way more collective nouns than I ever dreamed there could be!  So I am just going to tell you a few of them today, and that way I will have a bunch left over to tell you about another day.

A kindle of kittens
So first I will talk about CATS, because a group of cats can be called a clowder.  Which is a fun word that sort of makes me think of chowder, but that's something different.  Anyway, I don't know how many cats it takes to make a clowder, but I'm guessing maybe at least three.  Because two cats would just be a pair.

But besides a clowder, there are some other things you can call a group of cats, such as a clutter, a glaring, or a pounce.  And a bunch of KITTENS is a litter, a kindle, or an intrigue.

A pack of howling wolves

Sadly, DOGS don't have as many interesting names for their groups.  Mostly they are just packs.  Except for HOUNDS, which can be a cry.  And a group of CURS is called a cowardice, but I think that term isn't very nice, personally.  FOXES have lots of good words, though, because you can call them a skulk, cloud, troop, or company.

WOLVES are mostly just a pack, the same as a bunch of dogs, but you can also call a wolf pack a rout.

A coalition of cheetahs
CHEETAHS get together in a coalition, which sounds like a very powerful group.  Not to mention that they can run really fast, too.  A group of LEOPARDS is a leap, and LIONS can gather in a pride, a sault, a sowse, or a troop.

A sault of lions
Okay, well, that's enough new and exciting words for one day.  There is actually a whole book about these collective nouns, and it's called An Exaltation of Larks.  It was written by a man named James Lipton.  I have not read this book, and neither has Mom, but I think that anybody who read it would learn a lot of very useful words.


  1. Very interesting!! I also enjoyed the photos as much as the blog on "collective nouns." It's been a looong time since I even heard the term, collective nouns, so it did cause my brain to stretch a bit today!! That is a good thing! Time to get moving, mainly because your friend, Dodi, has used all his patience waiting on me to get off the computer.
    Love, AP

  2. Hi Piper!

    Mom says her favorite is a Murder of Crows. And I know 2 dogs is called a brace, but who could have just 2 dogs??? I also found this website:
    which shows that more than a bunch of cats can be called a nuisance, which is probably about right. My brother says anything more than 0 cats is too many, but I think one might be okay.

    AND this is cool: a mute of hounds. I think that one is about basenjis.

    Oh and yesterday mom painted my toenails GOLD. I don't know why.

    Zest, superstar in training

  3. I like a murder of crows, too! I am going to do another blog entry on just collective nouns for birds because there are lots of good ones! The website you mentioned was one of the ones I looked at, but I didn't use all their terms because it was hard to believe that all of them were real collective nouns and not just something someone made up to be funny! A nuisance of cats is pretty good, though, so I probably should have put it in! And a mute of hounds just doesn't sound as good as a "cry" of hounds -- at least if you are talking about hunting hounds. But you are right to say that a mute of hounds works for basenjis. A better one would be a yodel of basenjis!

    Oh, Mom wanted your mom to know that she has been reading The Zookeeper's Wife, and she thinks it is very interesting, so thanks for recommending it.

    Your friend, Piper

    1. My favorite is a parliament of owls

    2. That's a good one. It makes the owls sound as wise as they are supposed to be -- assuming Parliament is wiser than the U.S. Congress is! LOL

  4. we are glad your house is enjoying the Zookeeper's Wife.

    Here's something interesing:
    Basenji is the plural of mosenji.

    which I think is kinda strange because mosenji sounds like a plural.
    mo senjis, mo senjis and mo senjis.

    words are strange.


  5. Well, who would have guessed that basenji was the plural of mosenji? You are right -- mo senjis definitely sound like quite a few.


  6. You may add this to your list:

    poly – Greek πολύς - meaning “many”
    ailouro – Greek αίολος + ουρά – word for “cat”

    An ailurophile is a person who loves cats
    Polyailurophile is a person who loves many cats
    Polyailurophilous adj. for an affectionate human or household maintaining a clowder of cats

  7. Dear Gert,
    Thank you for bringing these very important words to my attention. I am afraid my mom is starting to be a polyailurophile, and that our house has become polyailurophilous. Mom said you forgot to mention ailurophobia, the fear of cats. This is also a good word to know because some people (and dogs) suffer from this condition, but not me! I can bravely stand up to any cat!
    Sincerely, Piper

  8. James Lipton is a well known academic, author, actor and critic. He has won several awards. He wrote the book to which you refer. Anything he has written would be a good investment in time and energy to read, he has an extraordinary mind. Wikipedia has a good entry on him:

  9. Was watching Zoo on netflix. Said something about a clowder of cats. Your result came up first. Congrats

  10. Was watching Zoo on netflix. Said something about a clowder of cats. Your result came up first. Congrats

  11. A group of pugs is called a grumble.

    1. Ha! That's funny! Thanks for sharing.

  12. A charm of hummingbirds.

    1. Ooh, I like that one! Hadn't heard it before.

  13. Don't forget a gaggle of geese!

    1. Well, I couldn't do them all -- just tried to mention some of the more unusual ones!

  14. A clowder of cats is indeed three or more cats.

  15. Dont forget a congress of baboons. :)