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.
For stories, features such as Date Lab, @Work Advice and more, visit WP Magazine.
Follow the Magazine on Twitter.
Like us on Facebook.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.