Sunday, August 27, 2006


Collective nouns: a beard of ants

According to this "Fun with words: collective nouns" page:
One of the craziest oddities of the English language is that there are so many different collective nouns that all mean "group" but which are specific to what particular thing there is a group of: a herd of elephants, a crowd of people, a box of crayons, a pad of paper, etc. There is great diversity of collective nouns associated with animals, from a sleuth of bears to a murder of crows.
Crazy! And odd! But when you study that list, you wonder whether there's some etymological structure behind this, or whether it's just linguistic happenstance (a fancy way of saying "people making sh*t up"). Why, for instance, do you have a "hive of bees" but not a "nest of ants"? (This list says "colony" of ants.) Do some of these terms make "the list" simply by reaching a critical mass of usage?

So let's belatedly take up Neels' invitation to make a game of making up our own. Word Daze tried to get this started some time ago, and Neel rose to the challenge with "a matlock of senior citizens."

My offer of "a beard of ants" is inspired by this recent scene in my driveway.


It would be more impressive t'were it like this, but pretty impressive, all the same.

My entry for this little game is a move of boxes, inspired by the fact that I've been filling boxes for an upcoming move.

ivynunz - the chaste sisters of Harvard, Yale, Brown, Penn, and Cornell.
Could it also be a heebeejeebee of ants? (or bees?)

wv: ayjuz: I just was going to get to it!
It looks like a smile of ants to me.

A Rorschach of ants.

korhap: A fancy way to say "crap."
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