Once upon a day, during one of our usual type of discussions about how things work, I gave out the fun fact that a “grouping of crows”, was called a “murder of crows”. To this, one daughter replied that that was ironic (I think she meant characteristic). Yes, it is characteristic and there is a reason for that. But first, here are a few more group names for fun:
~ a Flamboyance of flamingos
~an exultation of larks
~a parliament of owls
~a leap of leopards
~an Ostentation of Peacocks
~a crash of Rhinos
~a mischief of mice
~a puddling of ducks
You get the idea now, don’t you. These are no accidental coincidences.
In the late middle ages (1486), there was published a book: Boke of Seynt Albans (The Book of Saint Albans), which was a compilation of matters that relate to “the interest of the time of a gentleman (in other less archaic words, it describes what “gentlemen” do with their time).
It is also known by The Book of Hawking,, Hunting and Blasing of Arms. (blasing of arms refers to heraldry – family crests, etc..) As far as I know, we don’t have those “class” distinctions here in America, with gentry vs servant classes (and in between). Maybe we do somehow, but nothing like the arranged marriages they had in Middle Ages England (and later….and in Europe),to improve their social standing and wealth holdings. And ne’er the classes shall intermarry – it wasn’t considered proper. ::rolls eyes::
Anyway, this book contains an appended list of special collective nouns for animals. These they call, The Terms of Venery . Venery is an archaic term for hunting. So they have listed all the terms of groups of animals that “gentlemen” hunt. These terms are sometimes based on folk tales or superstitions so for example there is an old folktale that crows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow (and in reality, they will gladly gang up on a weaker crow and eat him when they get hungry). So between this and the superstitious thought that crows and ravens are harbingers of death, you can see how “A Murder of Crows” came about.
They had a sense of humor in those days too, so they added collective nouns for different professions to this book. Here are a few of those:
~a blast of hunters
~a melody of harpers
~a diligence of messengers
~a superfluity of nuns (my personal favorite)
~a subtlety of sergeants
There are many more extant group names that I won’t list. Ok maybe a couple more since I find this so hilarious. ~a conspiracy of Ravens, ~ a squabble of seagulls, ~a lamentation of swans, ~a barren of mules (har!), ~a leash of greyhounds, ~a cohort of zebras, ~an array of hedgehogs.
So “armed” with that ~illustration of facts, let’s think of a few that might or might not be:
~a healing of doctors
~ a chorus of canaries
~an adjustment of chiropractors
~a circuit of electricians
~a flush of plumbers
~a conduit of pipefitters
~a comfort of mothers
~a bleeding of street gang members
~a teapot of British
~a rhetoric of politicians
~a polyphony of musicians
~a sanctuary (or is it sometimes a sanctimony?) of Christians
~a photosynthesis of plants
~a composite of police sketch artists
~a depression of minor keys
~an acoustic of ceiling panels
~a delight of bakers
~a segue of symphonies
~an instruction of school teachers
do I have the right idea?