50 Collective Nouns for Groups of Animals
You know which animals move in packs, schools, and herds, but what about a wake, a business, or a flamboyance?
1. A CACKLE OF HYENAS
While clan is the much more accepted term, there's something very appropriate about cackle. And though their laughs and giggles sound entertaining, they're really how spotted hyenas express anger, frustration, and warnings to stay away.
2. A SHREWDNESS OF APES
This term has around since the late 1400s—at the time, shrewdness referred to the mischievous nature of apes, though knowing now how intelligent they are, the term still works.
3. A RAFT OF OTTERS
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, many aquatic animals, such as ducks or puffins, also form rafts.
4. A MURDER OF CROWS
In the 15th century, crows were considered to be omens of death and messengers from the devil or evil powers.
5. A SCURRY OF SQUIRRELS
Scurries are fairly unusual since squirrels are not pack animals by nature, so the more commonly used dray refers to a nest consisting of a mother squirrel and her young.
6. A WAKE OF VULTURES
For vultures, a wake specifically refers to a group feeding on a carcass. The less morbid terms kettle and committee are reserved for groups that are flying and resting in trees, respectively.
7. A BATTERY OF BARRACUDAS
Just one barracuda is intimidating, but a battery of them? Time to retreat!
8. A MUSTER OF STORKS
A muster can also be used for groups of peacocks/peafowl (though an ostentation of peacocks is much more illustrative).
9. A WALK OF SNAILS
Considering walk is one of the things a snail cannot do, this seems like an unusual choice. Perhaps the lesser-known (but still accepted) escargatoire would be more accurate.
10. A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS
It's unclear when this phrase was invented, with examples dating to the late 19th century. But its origin is likely an allusion to Chaucer's poem "The Parliament of Fowls," alongside the use of parliament as a collective noun for rooks.
11. AN AMBUSH OF TIGERS
Since tigers tend to be solitary creatures, a grouping of them would certainly feel like an ambush.
12. A COTERIE OF PRAIRIE DOGS
While full towns of prairie dogs are called colonies, the close-knit, individual family units are called coteries.
13. A MUTATION OF THRUSH
An ancient and medieval belief that thrushes shed and regrew their legs each decade led to the collective term of a mutation of thrush.
14. A MEMORY OF ELEPHANTS
Sure, a herd of elephants is the more common collective, but a memory is also a recognized term. We're not sure why a pack of pachyderms didn't catch on though …
15. A SKULK OF FOXES
This term likely came about because mother foxes raise their young while burrowed underground.
16. A SCOLD OF JAYS
Jays also hang in bands and parties.
17. A COVEY OF QUAIL
While they can also group as a flock or a bevy, a covey of quail sounds much more poetic.
18. A HOVER OF TROUT
Since trout tend to swim in groups near the bottom of a lake or river, they likely look like they're hovering over the bed of the waterway. Alternately, it may come from an old term for an overhanging rock where fish—like trout—can hide.
19. A BALE OF TURTLES
Supposedly, a group of turtles who are cozy in their shells would look like a field of round or squarish hay bales.
20. A RHUMBA OF RATTLESNAKES
Because, perhaps under circumstances that didn't involve a large number of snakes, that many rattles in one place would make you want to dance.
21. A CHARM OF HUMMINGBIRDS
If just one hummingbird is charming, can you imagine how charming a whole group of them would be?
22. A BUSINESS OF FERRETS
The Book of Saint Albans gave ferrets the collective term busyness ("besynes"), which today has become "business."
23. A STUBBORNNESS OF RHINOCEROSES
They can collectively be called a crash of rhinos as well.
24. A PRICKLE OF PORCUPINES
Could this term be any more apt?
25. AN IMPLAUSIBILITY OF GNUS
26. AN UNKINDNESS OF RAVENS
Ravens aren't exactly friendly fowl. They will often gang up on their prey or animals that enter their space. And because of the impression that they are an ominous presence, an unkindness of ravens can also be called a conspiracy.
27. A HAREM OF SEALS
Specifically, when you have a group of females with a dominant male, it's a harem. If it's just some breeding seals hanging out, it's a rookery.
28. A MOB OF KANGAROOS
And just like in human mobs, there's usually a leader (a "boomer," or adult male) who is only in power for a short while before being challenged and defeated by a rival boomer.
29. A GAM OF WHALES
Gam is a possible derivative of the word "gammon," meaning talk intended to deceive. Considering scientists have only just recently begun thinking they could decipher whale calls, we'd say the gam's gammon is pretty effective.
30. A POD OF PELICANS
They can also be called a squadron.
31. A GENERATION OF VIPERS
A group of snakes is generally a pit, nest, or den, but they're generally thought of as solitary creatures, so collective nouns for specific types of snakes are more fanciful. A "generation of vipers" likely originates from the King James translation of the Bible, in which Matthew 23:33 reads "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
32. A DESCENT OF WOODPECKERS
Woodpeckers are far more known for their wood-pecking style of foraging for food, but another method some have is to quickly dive-bomb anthills and termite mounds.
33. A RUN OF SALMON
A salmon run isn't just the mass migration of salmon up the river—a run of salmon is also the name of a grouping of the fish.
34. A KALEIDOSCOPE OF BUTTERFLIES
Groups of butterflies can also be called flutters.
35. A WISDOM OF WOMBATS
Wombats have large brains and are incredibly playful, which is often viewed as a sign of intelligence.
36. A ROUT OF WOLVES
While pack is definitely the better-known term today, a very old term for wolves is rout, a word that ultimately came from the Middle French for company.
37. A SHIVER OF SHARKS
The term shiver applies a bit more to nervous humans when they see a large group of sharks, which is perhaps why the term has caught on in recent years.
38. A SCOURGE OF MOSQUITOES
They're more commonly called a swarm, but a scourge sounds just as accurate.
39. A SLEUTH OF BEARS
This isn't a reference to any detective work bears may or may not do—it's derived from the Old English word for sloth, meaning slow (and sloth itself is sometimes used as a collective noun as well).
40. A GAZE OF RACCOONS
The males are called boars and the females sows.
41. A SIEGE OF HERONS
When herons pick a new lake or river to rest at, the fish there would certainly feel under siege.
42. A FLAMBOYANCE OF FLAMINGOS
Kudos to the creator of this perfect term.
43. A DESTRUCTION OF CATS
A destruction refers specifically to a group of wild or feral cats. A group of domesticated cats is a clowder.
44. A FEVER OF STINGRAYS
At the very least, swimming with a fever of stingrays would surely cause your blood pressure to rise.
45. A SKEIN OF GEESE
A skein is used specifically when geese (or other wild birds) are flying, while the alliterative gaggle is the term for grounded or domestic geese.
46. A BUNCH OF WORMS
Not terribly creative, but when in doubt, just say "a bunch" of whatever.
47. AN EXALTATION OF LARKS
An exaltation of larks also dates back to the 15th century Book of Saint Albans (which, because of its heraldry section, also happened to be the first book in England to be printed in color).
48. A FAMILY OF SARDINES
There are more than a dozen fish who can be labeled "sardine" in the supermarket. So in this case, family means a large grouping, rather than parents and children.
49. A BARREL OF MONKEYS
Not just a game—it's a real term. Monkeys can also congregate as a carload, troop, or tribe.
50. A DAZZLE OF ZEBRAS
They're more commonly called a herd, but a zeal or dazzle of zebras has such a nice ring to it.