What is a collective noun???
a noun that denotes a group of individuals (e.g., assembly, family, crew ). Collective nouns are names for a collection or a number of people or things. Words like group, herd, and array are collective noun examples.
Collective nouns have been an important part of English grammar for centuries, and the assembly of collective nouns began in the 1400s as printed materials become widely available and literacy rates among people began to climb.
Who decides on the right collective noun for something?
As per the OxfordWords Website: “The short answer is no one. While some languages, such as Spanish, French, and German, are ruled by committee there is no academy or governing body that decides on how English should evolve.”
Why did you do this?
The short answer, again, is that I kept looking around for a comprehensive listing of as many collective nouns as possible, and I kept finding elementary and rudimentary listings. I could never find large complete listings of collective nouns. I also wanted to see how collective nouns changed over time and how they were categorized or grouped.
A Note About the Categorization of Collective Nouns
Living Organisms (Plants, Animals, Bacterium, Fungi, etc.)
Wherever possible, I have tried to categorize these using the scientific classification system using Class – Order – (Family) if possible. In cases were nouns were too generalized or if there were a very large grouping of like nouns, I move up or down in the classification system to include either a Phylum, Superclass, Class, or a Clade.
Inanimate Common Nouns – I have attempted to categorize these as:
- Abstract nouns – refer to things that are not concrete; refer to emotions, ideas, concepts, traits, experiences, or a state of being.
- Countable nouns – are able to be shown with a number.
- Uncountable nouns – can be thought of as a collective within a subset of collective nouns. Normally uncountable nouns are used in the singular tense and one cannot use “a” or “an” with them.
- Concrete nouns represent something physical that can be experienced through the senses
Common nouns that could be grouped into additional categories include:
- Finance – refers to nouns in the world of banking and finance
- Food – Breads, Cereals, Confections, Dairy, Drink, Fruits, Fungi, Legumes, Meats, Nuts, Soups, Spices, and Vegetable.
- Music – Musical instruments, sections of an orchestra, nouns referring to music
- Military – Vehicles, Weapons
- Mythical Beings – that which no longer resides in the natural world or which exists in non-material world.
- Natural World – nouns that represent the natural world and its attributes
- Science and Medicine – nouns directly involved with the scientific world or the world of medicine
- Time – nouns referencing time
Loosely classified into groups defined by the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), and then by generally recognizable categories. Major Groupings of Occupations of the ISCO: – General Occupational Categories listed as:
- Managers – Management
- Professionals – Professional
- Technicians and Associate Professionals – Professional
- Clerical Support Workers – Clerical Support
- Services and Sales Workers- Services, Sales
- Skilled Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Workers – Farm
- Craft and Related Trades Workers – Trades
- Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers – Trades
- Elementary Occupations – Trades
- Armed Forces Occupations – Military
Access The Collective Noun Catalog
- “From a Levvell for Gentrie: S.T.” London, Johm Helme. 1614. British Museum C. 31 c. 4.
- “The Companyes of beastes and foules.” The Boke of Saint Albans. London, Sygne of the Rose Garlande. Wyliam Coplande for Richard Tottell. circa 1561. British Museum, C. 10,494.
- “The manere of hawkynge & huntynge: and also of diuysynge of Cote armours.” The Boke of Saint Albans. Wynkyn de Worde, 1496. Reproduced in Facsimile. 50-52.
- “Appendix:Glossary of Collective Nouns by Collective Term.” Appendix:Glossary of Collective Nouns by Collective Term – Wiktionary, en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ Appendix:Glossary_of_collective_nouns_by_collective_term.
- “Collective Nouns for Musicians.” Collective Nouns, 2003, gkpedia.com/ CollectiveNouns/collectivenounsformusicians.php.
- “Collective Nouns for Things | Objects, Fruit, Food, Grammer and More.” Collective Nouns, www.collectivenouns.biz/list-of-collective-nouns/ collective-nouns-objects-things/.
- “Culture of Microbiologists, Stream of Urologist and Other Collective Names of Doctors.” Ritankar Majumdar, 20 Feb. 2017, ritankarmajumdar.ddns.net/ 2017/02/20/culture-microbiologists-stream-urologist-collective-names-doctors/.
- “Fictitious Collective Nouns.” Suggestions for Fictitious or Dubious Collective Nouns for Groups of Things/People, Animals Etc.- A and B, www.hintsandthings.co.uk/kennel/fictitious-collectives.htm.
- “List of English Terms of Venery, by Animal.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_terms_of_venery,_ by_animal.
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- Barnes, Dame Juliana (attrib). “The Compaẏnẏs of beestẏs and fowlẏs.” The Boke of Saint Albans. Printed in 1486, Reproduced in Facsimile. With an Introduction by William Blades. British Library, London, 1881.
- Berners, Dame Juliana (attrib). Hawking, Hunting, and Fishing, with the True Measures of Blowing. Newly Corrected and Amended. 1586. Printed by Edward Allde
- Cambridge, Trinity College Library. Femina Manuscript. 1420. No. B.14. 40. Folio 88-89b.
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- Dodington, J. “The Visions of Dom Francisco de Quevedo Villegas, now made English.” 1688. London.
- Fanous, Samuel, and Thomas Bewick. A Conspiracy of Ravens: a Compendium of Collective Nouns for Birds. Bodleian Library, 2014.
- Findlay, Carly and Sarah Pegasus. “Medical Collective Nouns – a Poem.” Carly Findlay, 10 June 2013, carlyfindlay.com.au/2013/06/10/medical-collective-nouns-a-poem/.
- Hare, C. E. The Language of Field Sports. London, Country Life; New York: C. Schribners Sons, 1949.
- Heller, Ruth. A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns. Grosset & Dunlap, 2001.
- Hodgkin, John (1909). Proper Terms: An Attempt at Rational Explanation of the Meanings of the Collection of Phrases in “The Book of St. Albans,” 1486, Entitled “Companys of Beestys and Fowlys,” and Similar Lists’. Supplement to the Transactions of the Philological Society, 1907–1910.
- Lipton, James. An Exaltation of Home and Family. Villard Books, 1993.
- Lipton, James. Exaltation of Larks; Or, The Venereal Game. Penguin, 1977.
- London, British Museum. Addl. Manuscript 33,994. 15th Century. Folio 26b.
- London, British Museum. Egerton Manuscript 1995. Circa 1452. Begins on folio 555.
- London, British Museum. Harley Manuscript 2340. 15th Century. Begins on folio 51a.
- London, British Museum. Harley Manuscript 541. 15th Century. Begins on folio 225a.
- London, British Museum. Porkington Manuscript 10. Begins on Folio 184a.
- London, British Museum. Robert of Gloucester Manuscript, College of Arms. 15th century.
- Lydgate, John, et al. The Hors, the Shepe, & the Ghoos: a Poem. From the Shakspeare Press by W. Nicol, 1822.
- Ogburn, Jacqueline K., and Nicoletta Ceccoli. A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010.
- Oxford, Bodleian Library. Digby Manuscript 196. 15th Century. Folio 1600.
- Oxon. Langbaine, Gerald. Manuscript communicated to Franciscus Junius for his “Etymologicum Anglicanum.” 1743.
- Sacher, Jason. A Compendium of Collective Nouns: from an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras. Chronicle Books, 2013.
- Skeat, Rev. Professor. “Nominale Sive Verbale.” Philological Society’s Transactions, 1906. London. 423-7, 14.
- Sparkes, Ivan G. Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms. White Lion Publishers Lts, 1975.
- The Booke of Curtesye or lytyll John, printed by William Caxton, Bodleian Library, Oxford. a fragment only. Circa 1477.
- West, Kipling. A Rattle of Bones: a Halloween Book of Collective Nouns. Orchard Books, 1999.
- “From Blome’s Gentleman’s Recreation.” 1686. British Museum G.7428. 44-75.
- “From the Academy of Armory and Blazon.” Handle Holme. 1688. British Museum 2010.g. 131, 310-311.
- “From the Gentleman’s Recreation.” Third Edition. 1686. Freeman Collins for Nicholas Cox. British Museum 1040.g.1. 9-10.
- “List of Collective Nouns for Animals + Group Names of Mammals & Fish.” Adducation, www.adducation.info/mankind-nature-general-knowledge/collective-nouns-for-animals/.
- “23 Bookish Collective Nouns.” Writers Write, 20 Jan. 2018, writerswrite.co.za/23-bookish-collective-nouns/.
- “An Alphabet of Animals.” The Ark In Space, www.arkinspace.com/2010/12/collective-nouns-alphabet-of-animals.html.
- “Collective Nouns – People.” myenglishgrammar.com/list-3-collective-nouns.html.
- “Collective Nouns List.” Collective Nouns List – Official Site, www.collectivenounslist.com/.
- “Collective Nouns.” Sight Words, Reading, Writing, Spelling & Worksheets Header Image, www.sightwordsgame.com/parts-of-speech/collective-nouns/.
- Burrard, Gerald. Notes on Sporting Rifles. 1958.
- Cockaine, Thomas, and W. R. Halliday. A Short Treatise of Hunting. Milford, 1932.
- Collective Nouns: EnchantedLearning.com, 2006, www.enchantedlearning.com/grammar/partsofspeech/nouns/collective/.
- Cox, Nicholas. The Gentleman’s Recreation: In Four Parts, Viz. Hunting, Hawking, Fowling, Fishing: Collected at First from Antient and Modern Authors, and Now in This Second Edition Corrected and Very Much Enlarged by Several Eminent and Skilful Persons, Lovers of These Sports. 1677.
- Daniel, William Barker. Rural Sports. I. White, 1805.
- Englishstudy. “Collective Nouns Singular or Plural?” English Study Page, englishstudypage.com/grammar/collective-nouns-singular-or-plural/.
- Folkard, H.C. Wildfowler – A Treatise On Fowling Ancient and Modern. Read Books Ltd., 2013.
- Fry, Edward B., and Jacqueline E. Kress. The Reading Teacher’s Book Of Lists. Wiley, 2012.
- Gvillim, John. “From the Display of Heraldrie.” Second Edition. Richard Badger for Ralph Mab. 1632. British Museum 605.g.14. 177.
- Hodgkin, John. Proper Terms, an Attempt at a Rational Explanation of the Meanings of the Collection of Phrases in “the Book of St. Albans”, 1486, Entitled “Compaynys of Beestys and Fowlys” and Similar Lists, by John Hodgkin, K. Paul, Trench, TruÌBner and Co., 1909.
- Holme, Randle. Academy of Armory and Blazon. Scolar Pr., 1972.
- Mackintosh, Alexander. The Driffield Angler: in Two Parts. Henry Mozley, Printer, 1810.
- Marhkam, Gervase. “From the Gentlemen’s Academie of The Booke of Saint Albans.” London, Humfrey Lownes. 1595. British Museum C.31.e.30. 37b-38.
- McKnight, Scot. “50 Collective Nouns.” Jesus Creed, 21 Jan. 2013, www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/01/24/50-collective-nouns/.
- Mercado, Mia. “A Compiled List of Collective Nouns.” The New Yorker, The New Yorker, 19 June 2017, www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/a-compiled-list-of-collective-nouns.
- Nicol, Randall James. A Collection of Terms Denoting Assemblages of Animals, Birds, Human Beings, Etc. Ballogie, 1933.
- Osbaldiston, William Augustus. The British Sportsmen: or noblemen, gentlemen and farmer’s dictionary of recreation and amusement. 1792.
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- Turbervile, George. “Of the Terms of Venerie.” The Booke of Hunting. Henry Bynneman for Christopher Barker. 1575. British Museum C.31.G.1.(2.). 234.
- Twici, William, and Thomas Phillips. Le Art De Venerie, Par Guyllame Twici. Ex MSS. Phillipps, No. 8336. Middle Hill, 1840.
- Wright, Thomas, ed. “A Volume of Vocabularies.” From the Treatise of Walter de Bibbeswirth, end of the Thirteenth Century. 1857. Volume I, 150-151.