Today, collective nouns. There was an interesting debate recently at work. An article was circulated about ‘The Cat of Death‘, featuring a cat called Oscar that apparently has remarkable powers of telepathy: when he curls up near someone at a nursing home, they inevitably curl up and die hours later.
Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill], was convinced of Oscar’s talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman was not eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.
His previous 12 ‘successes’ involved several people who weren’t moving, three who had turned green, four who had gone a bit stiff, and two were lying prone on the floor. In one spectacular diagnosis Oscar was found asleep on the face of one resident who only minutes before had fallen out of a cupboard.*
The debate ensued as to whether or not it was still legal to drown kittens at which point I tuned out, but it reminded me of the collective noun for a group of kittens. It’s a kindle. A kindle of kittens. Further investigation brought up this wonderful page which lists just about every collective noun going, and then some. Among my favourites:
- a mischief of mice
- a covey of ptarmigans
- a pomp of Pekingese
- a horde of hamsters
- a babble of barbers
- … and, from the Some That Might Be section, a shower of meteorologists and a jam of tarts. I’d add an egoplex of bloggers to that.
Whoever owns the website clearly has a preoccupation with English As She Is Spoke: this page features a treasure trove of resources for anyone with a passing interest in English and who wants to find out something fascinating about it.
* This paragraph is, of course, not true.
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