Collective Nouns

I’ll be at the West Port Book Festival on Friday, discussing Walter Scott and then Collective Nouns. In advance of this event, which ties in with a great linguistic experiment site, I’m flagging up a few words I’d like the audience to come up with Collective Nouns for – though that should be “I’m flagging up a few words for which I would like the audience to come up with Collective Nouns”.   Up with this I will not put, McShandy! For an afternoon of grammar, ethics, comedy, antiquarian antics, audience participation and The Significance of Sideboards in Scottish Literary History, come along – it’s at 5 pm in the wonderful Peter Bell Books, and you can probably go and see David Bishop interviewing Frank Quitely at 3 pm in Edinburgh Books beforehand. Anyway: these are your Collective Noun challenges: pianos, daffodils, tapeworms, zebras, spin-doctors, ginger people, atheists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. All of the nouns, and their collective terms, may well be hidden here…

I'm at the back... no left of there



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5 responses to “Collective Nouns

  1. A circumspection of pianos – from Nicolas Slonimsky: The First Hundred Years, p. 318
    What’s wrong with a bunch of daffodils? Host would do too if you’re feeling poetic.
    A clew of worms works so I imagine the same for tapeworms.
    A cohort of zebras (or apparently a zeal). Herd can be used too.
    I’ve heard a few for spin-doctors: rebuttal, spiral persuasion.
    The only one I can find for redheads is nerd which, being a red-headed nerd, I can’t argue with.
    There are loads of suggestions for atheists: sect, freedom, carnival, reason but I think kennel is the right one (Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms)
    The only one I didn’t need to look up is a persistence of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a competition on Radio One years ago to invent a new collective noun and that was the winning entry.

  2. Jonathan Whiteside

    I’m heading to see David chat with perhaps my favourite current comic artist before your event. I shall be taking a copy of Batman & Robin #1 along to get signed by Frank, I’m trying to think of a comic to get yourself to sign, hmm.

  3. Andrew S

    How about an attenuation of tapeworms?

  4. holly

    i just found out gingers are a “rash”
    love it.

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