A few weeks ago in this space, I observed that the best word for a group of teenage girls is not a “gaggle” but a “giggle.” Immediately, I got an e-mail from readers Nancy and Richard Downing, who added two more of their own: a “slouch” of teenage boys and a “shuffle” of octogenarians.
Species-specific collective nouns have been an occasional source of public amusement since the publication of “An Exaltation of Larks,” a 1968 book about ancient, colorful, little-known collective terms for groups of animals. They were invented by 15th-century fops who sat around amusing themselves with terms like a “murder” of crows, a “parliament” of owls or an “ostentation” of peacocks.
Modern takeoffs occasionally pop up, though many are tedious. To date, the most creative appeared in a 1993 Washington Post Style Invitational humor contest. (Ex.: A “proliferation”
of abortion protesters. A “Congress” of hot-air balloons.)
Twenty years is too long. It’s time for more:
A CONDESCENSION of literati.
A CONFEDERACY of racists.
A WHOLE LOT of used-car salesmen.
An ABUNDANCE OF RICHES of cliches.
A VIRGINITY of comic-book collectors.
An INDEX of urologists.
A SNOTGOBBLE of toddlers.
A SPECULATION of gynecologists.
A PANTSLOAD of “creation scientists.”
A WHOMSOEVER of grammarians.
An ARMADA of Hindu gods.
A BROOD of Sartre scholars.
A MEANDER of tourists.
A GROSS of used Kleenex.
A HUMP of dogs.
An EXCRUCIATION of webinars.
An ENTITLEMENT of millennials.
A WHATCHAMACALLIT of senior citizens.
A CLIQUE of phishing scammers.
A REDUNDANCY of thesauruses.
A BODY of starlets.
A FACTION of trivia specialists.
A TRANSPARENCY of comb-overs.
A LILT of IT customer-service specialists.
A ~ of surrealists.
A SANCTIMONIUM of home-school advocates.
A JUDICIARY of Talmudic scholars.
A CASSEROLE of Iowans.
A COLONY of proctologists.
An EXPECTORATION of baseball players.
A CIRCUMSPECTION of mohels.
A DEFENESTRATION of frogs.
A HACKERY of humor columnists.
Contributing to this list were Caitlin Gibson, Holly Morris, William Koper, Monica Hesse, Rachel Manteuffel, Charles Lane and Robert McCartney.
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