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Herds, packs and flocks are old news!
by KindMeal.my, 26 September 2014
Herds, packs and flocks are old news!

Some of the collective nouns to refer to groups of animals are as exotic as the beasts themselves. These colourful and evocative words will ensure that you address gatherings of doves, owls, hippos, crows and apes correctly.

An Exaltation of Doves

Exaltation is defined as "mental elevation; a state of mind in which a person possesses elevated thoughts and noble aspirations." Indeed, if a few doves take flight before us, can we feel anything but elevated alongside them?

A Parliament of Owls

This group name has its origins in the children's classic "The Chronicles of Narnia" by CS Lewis and is a reference to Chaucer's allegorical poem "The Parliament of Fowls", in which all the birds of the Earth gather together to find a mate. Lewis adapts the title of Chaucer's poem to describe a council of owls who meet at night to discuss the affairs of Narnia. The huge international success of Lewis's books – they've sold more 100m copies in 47 languages – means that the term has become far more widely known than most of the traditional collective nouns and is now recognised by dictionary compliers as the "correct" term for a group of owls.

A Bloat of Hippopotamuses

This is a comparatively recent addition to the collective noun canon, appearing for the first time in print in CE Hare's 1939 hunting and fishing manual "The Language of Field Sports". An average male hippo weighs just under 3,600kg, and their bodies are covered in a layer of subcutaneous fat that helps them to float well. It is likely that they genuinely do spend much of their time with bloated stomachs since their diet is almost exclusively grass, and they can store what they have ingested for up to three weeks.

A Shrewdness of Apes

At first glance, it's hard to believe that this collective noun was in use a full 500 years ago. Nowadays, shrewdness means intelligence and, more precisely, astuteness. And though recent studies into the behaviour and brains of apes have revealed startling cognitive abilities, these findings would have shocked medieval naturalists. Instead, our forefathers noted in apes a kind of playful mischievousness, and in their day shrewdness meant wickedness. In a wonderful stroke of luck, the evolution of our language has mirrored the evolution of our scientific understanding, so that a term that made perfect sense in 1486 also makes perfect sense to us.

A Murder of Crows

While most terms for groups of birds are linked to their song or habitat, this one has its roots in medieval folklore. With their dark feathers and jet-black eyes, crows were regarded by 15th-century peasants as messengers of the devil or witches in disguise. They were suspected of having prophetic powers, and the appearance of a crow on the roof of a house was taken as an omen that someone inside would soon die. There are also accounts of the birds living up to their murderous name by enacting something known as a crow parliament, during which up to 500 birds are said to gather together before suddenly setting on one of their number and tearing it to pieces.

So, there. Now get together with your clique, tribe or team and go out for some meat-free dining. Promotions at http://KindMeal.my/ mean that your whole battalion can eat for less.

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