A Comprehensive List of Animal Group Names

Updated on May 23, 2019
Sammendoran profile image

Sam majored in English and used to work as an English substitute teacher. She is now an editor for a non-fiction publishing house.

What do you call a group of...?

English is indeed a strange language, and nothing is stranger than the variety of collective nouns assigned to groups of particular animals. So why is a group of crows called a murder of crows or a group of sloths called a bed of sloths?

Animal group names date back to medieval times when a list of collective terms for animals appeared in the Book of Saint Albans, printed in 1486. This book, written by a nun named Juliana Barnes, covered the topics of hunting, fishing, and coat of arms, and it included the first ever list of collective nouns for every type of animal one could possibly imagine. These nouns were venery or hunting terms but have since extended into the everyday vernacular. Some terms, however, are so odd that you would only find them in literature or poetry.

Collective Names for Groups of Animals

Mammals and Marsupials

  • Albatross: rookery
  • Alligators: congregation
  • Apes: troop or shrewdness
  • Baboons: troop or flange
  • Badgers: cete
  • Bats: colony or cauldron
  • Bears: sleuth or sloth
  • Beavers: colony or family
  • Bloodhounds: sute
  • Boars: sounder
  • Buffalo: obstinacy or gang
  • Camels: caraven, flock, train, or herd
  • Cats: clowder, pounce, glaring, or destruction (if they're wild)
  • Cattle: mob
  • Cheetas: coalition
  • Colts: rag or rake
  • Deer: herd or parcel
  • Dogs: litter (if they're puppies), pack (if they're wild), or cowardice (if they're curs)
  • Dolphins: pod
  • Donkeys: pace
  • Elephants: herd, parade, or memory
  • Elk: gang
  • Ferrets: business, hob (male), jill (female), kit (babies)
  • Fox: leash, skulk, or earth (this is the oddest of all group names in my opinion)
  • Giraffes: tower
  • Gnus: implausibility
  • Goats: trip, drove, herd, flock, tribe
  • Gorillas: troop or band
  • Hedgehogs: array
  • Hippopotamuses: thunder or bloat
  • Hyenas: clan or cackle
  • Jaguars: prowl or shadow
  • Kangaroos: mob or troop
  • Kittens: kindle, litter, or intrigue
  • Lemurs: conspiracy
  • Leopards: leap
  • Lions: pride or sawt
  • Martens: richness
  • Moles: labor
  • Monkeys: troop or barrel
  • Mules: pack, span, or barren
  • Narwhals: blessing
  • Otters: raft or romp
  • Oxen: drove, team, yoke
  • Pandas: embarrassment
  • Pigs: drift, drove, sounder, team, or passel
  • Polar Bear: pack, aurora, or celebration
  • Porcupines: prickle
  • Porpoises: turmoil, pod, school, or herd
  • Prairie dogs: colonies or coteries
  • Rabbits: colony, nest, warren, husk, down or herd
  • Raccoons: gaze, boars (group of males), sows (group of females)
  • Rhinoceroses: stubbornness or crash
  • Seals: harem
  • Sloths: bed
  • Squirrels: scurry or dray (a nest of mother and her babies)
  • Tigers: streak or ambush
  • Whales: pod, gam, or herd
  • Wolves: pack, rout, or route (when in movement)
  • Wombats: wisdom
  • Zebra: herd, zeal, or dazzle

Interesting Fact

Some of these animals are solitary, so it is ironic that they have group names dedicated to their kind when they are rarely found in groups.

Source

Birds

  • Bitterns: sedge
  • Buzzards: wake
  • Bobolinks: chain
  • Coots: cover
  • Cormorants: gulp
  • Chickens: clutch
  • Crows: murder, horde, unkindness, conspiracy
  • Dotterel: trip
  • Doves: dule or pitying (used only for turtle doves)
  • Ducks: brace, team, flock (when in flight), raft (when on water), paddling, or badling
  • Eagles: convocation
  • Falcons: cast
  • Finches: charm
  • Flamingos: stand or flamboyance
  • Geese: flock, gaggle (when on the ground), or skein (when in flight)
  • Grouse: pack (in late season)
  • Hawks: cast, kettle (when in flight), or boil (when there are two or more spiraling in air)
  • Herons: sedge or siege
  • Hummingbirds: charm
  • Jays: scold or party
  • Lapwings: deceit
  • Larks: exaltation
  • Lyrebirds: musket
  • Mallards: brace or sord (when in flight)
  • Magpies: tiding, charm, or gulp
  • Nightingales: watch
  • Owls: parliament
  • Parrots: pandemonium or company
  • Partridge: covey
  • Peacock: ostentation or muster
  • Pelicans: Pod or squadron
  • Penguins: convent, tuxedo, colony, muster, parcel, or rookery
  • Pheasant: nest, nide (a brood), nye, guff (in-flight), or bouquet (take-off)
  • Plovers: congregation or wing (when in flight)
  • Ptarmigans: covey
  • Rooks: building
  • Quail: bevy or covey
  • Ravens: unkindness
  • Seagulls: squabble
  • Snipe: walk or wisp
  • Sparrows: host
  • Starlings: murmuration
  • Storks: muster or mustering
  • Swans: bevy, game, or wedge (when in flight)
  • Teal: spring
  • Thrushes: mutation
  • Turkeys: gang or rafter
  • Vultures: committee, kettle, or wake (refers to a group feeding on carcass)
  • Woodcocks: fall
  • Woodpeckers: descent

A Mutation of Thrushes?

It was a common belief in medieval times that thrushes shed their legs and regrew them every 10 years, which led to the term "mutation."

Reptiles, Fish, and Amphibians

  • Barracudas: battery
  • Cobras: quiver
  • Crocodiles: bask
  • Eels: bed
  • Fish: draft, nest, run, school, or shoal
  • Frogs: army
  • Herring: army
  • Iguanas: slaughter
  • Komodo dragons: bank
  • Rattlesnakes: rhumba
  • Salamanders: maelstrom
  • Salmon: run
  • Sardines: family
  • Sharks: shiver
  • Snakes: nest, pit, den
  • Stingrays: fever
  • Toads: knot
  • Trout: hover
  • Turtles: bale or nest
  • Vipers: generation

A Generation of Vipers?

The term "generation" comes from Matthew 23:33 in the King James version of the Bible: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"

Bugs and Other Things

  • Bees: grist, hive, or swarm
  • Butterflies: kaleidoscope, flutter, or swarm
  • Caterpillars: army
  • Clams: bed
  • Cockroaches: intrusion
  • Crabs: cast or consortium
  • Flies: business
  • Grasshoppers: cloud
  • Jellyfish: bloom, fluther, or smack
  • Lobsters: risk
  • Locusts: plague
  • Mosquitoes: swarm or scourge
  • Octopuses: consortium or rally
  • Oysters: bed
  • Snails: rout, walk, hood, or escargatoire
  • Spiders: cluster
  • Squid: audience
  • Worms: bunch

Interesting Fact

Collective names are not unique to animal groups. Groups of people have odd collective names as well. Some examples include:

• a blush of boys

• a superfluity of nuns

• a drunkship of cobblers

• a faith of merchants

• a hastiness of cooks

There you have it folks! You'll never have to guess as to which group name is correct again. And if you do, just say "a group of..." In fact, in most instances, you'll want to use group rather than the names on this list, since most of these terms are archaic and aren't widely known. Your friends (and even teachers) might give you weird looks if you use them in speech. This list is, however, essential if you are writing and want to use words with more flare. If I left out anything, please let me know in the comments below.

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    • profile image

      landon 

      8 months ago

      cool

    working

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