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Collective nouns, redux

Posted by GPP on July 30, 2003

Rummaging down the current discussion page, I was intrigued to find the post "Collective nouns" of 07/09/03, submitting "a float of hippos" and "a tower of giraffes". Googling the term "collective nouns" yielded a bevy of different sites, some more extensive than others, and many containing made-up humorous suggestions. Of the ones I looked at, my impression was that
http://rinkworks.com/words/collective.shtml,
http://www.vigay.com/nouns/mammals.html,
http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/help/faq/animals/names.htm,
http://www.annexed.net/bthree/nouns.html,
http://library.christchurch.org.nz/Childrens/FactSheets/AnimalGroupNames.asp, and
http://elmtree.members.beeb.net/htmldb/collectivenouns.htm
seemed generally to be relatively authoritative, with fewer self-consciously farcical entries than many other such sites.

Checking the archives of this site, I find "a kine of cows", which I can't believe can be correct. "Cows" in the collective are indeed "kine", but "cows" itself is collective in that identical sense; one would never say "a kine of cows", because "kine" carries no more sense of a group than does the term "cows" itself.

The original question had to to with a collective noun describing a group of people; most of the sites found by Google gave facetious suggestions, but one or another of them might yield something useful.

Further rummaging down the page brought me to the 07/08/03 entry for "spanner", which reminded me of Lennon's famous book "A Spaniard in the Works."