The Wit Of Words: Inventing Collective Nouns

Leanne's Butterflies

One of the games we play at the dinner table is What’s The Collective Noun For (throw out a noun). It’s not that snazzy a title, but we parents-on-the premises made it up on the fly to interest our kid in the more entertaining and provocative aspects of grammar. The game was a hit –for all of us. We had no idea such diversity existed in the English language to describe the collective identity of a group of things. Over the years, adding, but not using, collective nouns, to my somewhat private vocabulary has become a hobby. What I mean by private is just that: a vocabulary I cherish and keep to myself. While I have an ongoing love affair with the English language, for the most part, the conventions we utilize for day-to-day communication do not provide much room for whimsical or archaic words. The eccentric does not lend itself to clarity; it’s fair trade in the business of words.

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