This week I’m offering some vocabulary as part of the Thursday Writing Prompt series. To make it interesting, I want to add some collective nouns to your arsenal or writer’s tools. Collective nouns include terms like a herd of cattle or a band of mustangs. In the Middle Ages, this specialized vocabulary, called venery (don’t confuse it with another use of this word) was developed from hunting traditions to describe groups of animals and birds.
Some of the terms are pretty common and others are rare. Some are even kind of funny. Here’s a small sampling of real terms for groups of birds, animals, and even types of humans:
Unkindness Ravens Rafter Turkeys Gaze Raccoons Pod Whales Murder Crows Parliament Owls Yoke Oxen Stalk Foresters Hastiness Crooks Army Caterpillars
Your challenge is to work some of these terms into your writing. Make it fun, and don’t force it. If you like the exercise, try making up some terms of your own for groups. I’ve invented a “stultitude of morons.” It’s derived from the Latin term “stultus,” which means fool. I think it works because stultitude rhymes with multitude (a whole bunch of something), and it’s kind of fun to say.
Let’s try inventing some more terms. What about a code of hackers? A brake of drivers? A loaf of bakers? You get the idea. Do some research to find out real terms, but have a little fun making them up.