Whatchamacallit?

Lately, the boys and I have been obsessed with the nomenclature of groupings of things. You know, a herd of elephants, a flock of seagulls. We are fixated on this topic because I was at a loss for words to describe a gathering of turtles we often see in one particular canal. There are often wading birds in the canal — anhingas, cormorants, herons — and occasionally, if I’m driving slowly, we’ll see a couple groupings of turtles. I kept calling them “turtle parties”.

Omniscient Wizard proclaimed, “Mom, that sounds stupid. ‘Turtle party’ can’t possibly be right.”

“OK,” I replied. “What’s the right answer?”

Wizard pulls out his smartphone and Googles the answer: a bale of turtles.

The phrase evoked peals of laughter from the back seat. Wizard retorted, “Can I bail out the bale of turtles for bailing on the bail?” More laughter, but a provocative topic. As we thought of more groups of animals, we looked up the proper names of their groupings. I must share them with you:

  • a murmuration of starlings
  • a jamboree of jaguars
  • a business of ferrets
  • a rafter of turkeys
  • a fez of armadillos
  • a waddle of penguins
  • a murder of crows
  • a troop of baboons
  • an intrusion of cockroaches
  • a mob of emus
  • a covey of quail
  • a rhumba of rattlesnakes
  • a dazzle of zebras

Fascinating, isn’t it? I keep thinking there is potential for a children’s storybook here. What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Whatchamacallit?

  1. I think it’s fascinating. Just read recently that crow lovers are working on changing “murder” to something else (one of my favorite suggestions is a caucus — cawcus — of crows). We have a group of doves that live in the woods during the winter and one of the names for a grouping of doves that I like is a dule of doves.

    I have to agree with you. The group names have all the makings of a great children’s book.

  2. “Rhumba of rattlesnakes?” I gotta remember that when I’m out running and see those puppies and drop that little tidbit on my friends. “Well, we are being overrun by a rhumba of rattlesnakes today!”

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