I recently found out that a herd of zebras is also known as a dazzle. I mean, how perfect is that?

I’m a total word nerd, so it got me wondering what other collective nouns I’m missing out on beyond the obvious ones like swarm, school, and flock. Cue, an indulgent few hours exploring weird and wonderful terms and the oddities of the English language. 

Words that describe specific groups of animals are also known as ‘terms of venery’. Many date back to the Middle Ages and are a fabulous reflection of history, culture and superstitions – like an unkindness of ravens. Others continue to evolve and emerge, as it comes down to the most commonly used term at the time. Take a snuggle of sloths for example, chosen as the favourite term by some 125,000 sloth fans on social media. It seems anyone can make up a collective noun, you just need to get enough people to use it.

Here are a few of my favourites:

 A dazzle of zebras

 A flamboyance of flamingos 

 A loveliness of ladybirds

 A paddle of platypuses 

 A kaleidoscope of butterflies 

A shrewdness of apes

A congregation of alligators

A cauldron of bats

A murder of crows

A caravan of camels

A business of ferrets

A tower of giraffes

A conspiracy of lemurs

A romp of otters

A smack of jellyfish

A prickle of porcupines

An unkindness of ravens

A bloat of hippopotamuses

An audience of squid

A memory of elephants

A quiver of cobras 

A knot of toads

A shiver of sharks 

A consortium of crabs

A parliament of owls  

And that’s just for animals!  There are all kinds of other collective nouns that are equally fascinating. Take professions for example…

A rash of dermatologists.

An eloquence of lawyers.

Something for another day I think.