One of the best parts of the English language (for this word-nerd at least!) are collective nouns. Originally, they were used for hunting and sport, and it was a mark of true nobility if you knew the right collective noun for the prey of the day.
Collective nouns are also very democratic. There is no governing body who decides on the correct term (though some have been in fashion for so long as to be accepted as final). Instead usage determines the noun, and what doesn’t catch on falls away.
Collective nouns are, of course, most famous for animals, some more fanciful than others:
- a shrewdness of apes
- a clowder of cats
- a herd of buffalo
- a murder of crows
- a wisdom of wombats
They’re also often wonderfully visual and can add a touch of whimsy and colour to a sentence without the weight of adjectival phrases. How delightful is a charm of finches? How poetic is a flight of butterflies? How evocative is a crash of rhinoceroses?
Recently, I found myself wondering if there were collective nouns for groups of people as well. And, luckily for all of us, other people have wondered too, and I found some fantastic examples that I’d like to share with you. Remember, they’re all democratic so if you like them, use them loudly and often. If you don’t, ignore them and hope they go away!
Collective nouns for people: a non-comprehensive list
- A faculty of academics
- A flood of plumbers
- A team of athletes
- A wiggery of barristers
- A crew of sailors
- A flash of paparazzi
- A shuffle of bureaucrats
- An exaggeration of fishermen
- A flock of tourists
- A talent of gamblers
- A prudence of vicars
- A gaggle of gossips
- A damning of jurors
- A panel of experts
- An imposition of in-laws
and, perhaps most usefully,
by Juanita Kees
Great reading and fabulous for rural readers and authors alike, this collection of true small town stories really warms the heart. For me, it epitomises the true spirit of Australia and small towns. These brave, big-hearted women are about so much more than just cake stalls and fundraisers. They are the backbone of support for rural communities no matter what the circumstances – drought, fire, education or immigration. The book includes 90 classic CWA recipes and stories from all over the outback.
For readers who love stories about communities, we also recommend Juanita’s latest story, a rural romance about a man who’s shouldered the burden of caring for the small town – and the woman who might come to care for him.
by Lily Malone
I bought The Martian by Andy Weir for my Dad. He likes space and he likes gardening 🙂
We suggest you buy Lily Malone’s latest novels for readers who like wine and who like reading!
By Rhyll Biest
The title I’ll be buying for working women friends and colleagues this year is Feminist Fight Club, so they can enjoy a laugh while learning how to tackle the Manterrupter, (who talks over female colleagues in meetings) or the Bropropriator (who appropriates their ideas) in addition to a bunch more practical hacks for dealing with other external (sexist) and internal (self-sabotaging) behaviours that plague women in the workplace. And the Canberra Centre Dymocks definitely deserves some love during the holiday season for their friendly and knowledgeable staff!
Also recommended for BFFs is Rhyll’s latest novel, Hell on Wheels. What BFF doesn’t want a paranormal marriage-of-convenience story about a roller-derby playing demon princess?
by Elisabeth Rose
I’d recommend The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander for someone setting up house for the first time or someone developing an interest in cooking. It’s pricey so probably for someone a bit special, but it’s a really comprehensive guide for Australian kitchens. It has sections on vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, cooking techniques, measures etc and is packed with recipes for pretty much everything. Best of all it’s terrific value for money because it has no glossy photos that cost a bomb and waste space.
It sits on a book seat thingy on my kitchen bench and I refer to it all the time. We bought it as our Christmas gift to ourselves one year. Husband and I do that instead of trying to think of something each after 43 years together.
For fans of romantic mysteries – not thrillers, mysteries – on your list, we heartily recommend Elisabeth Rose who writes romantic suspense with real characters with real problems and real happy-ever-after endings. Perfect for those readers who like their suspense without the gore.
by Catherine Evans
I bought my Dad (who’s an avid reader in his 70s) a couple of Robin Hobb books. OMG! They’re the gift that keeps giving. He’s addicted, so each birthday or Christmas, he gets another. They’re fantasy, mostly in trilogies that are all interconnected, with about 20 books in total and more coming. I think there’s a couple of years’ worth of gifts!
Catherine Evans debuted this year with The Healing Season, a beautiful novel about a man in need of a new start and a town offering them up for a dollar a week. Also available are the two linked stories from Jennie Jones and Lisa Ireland.
by Sandra Antonelli
My mother instilled me with her love of books, from a very, very young age. While she doesn’t read fiction (except for my books because I am her daughter), when we talk reading, it’s all about non-fiction. We have traded books over the years and over vast distances. We’ve read Simon Winchester’s A Crack in the Edge of the World, Krakatoa, The Professor and the Madman (aka The Surgeon of Crowthorne), Giles Milton’s Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, Dava Sobel’s Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, as well as an array of non-fiction ranging from the plague to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Books are a Christmas gift-giving tradition.
Two years ago, Mom gave me the book Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast. I returned the favour last year, giving her The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum.
She gave me Stiff: Curious lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.
This year I’m giving her Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, and A is For Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup.
Gee, it looks like we’ve got some sort of theme here, but I assure you, Mom and I do not have a toxic relationship. We simply have an interest in the unusual. And, it seems, books about somewhat macabre stuff written by women. Merry, merry, Happy, Happy, Ho-Ho-Ho kids!
If you have someone on your list who loves pop culture, music, movies, and appreciates a quick quip, then we suggest gifting a Sandra Antonelli novel or two. Next to You is her latest.
by Zaide Bishop
Here are my suggestions for gift books:
My book of the year that I want to gift to everyone is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F** by Mark Manson. There is literally no one you cannot give that to. Okay, maybe not your grandma but everyone else is yes.
For someone who has been decimated by 2016 as we all have been, the new Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.
For teenagers, Teens Cook: How To Cook What You Want To Eat by Megan, Judy & Jill Carle.
Also for teenagers: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld and Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti.
For middle-grades, Acquisition and its sequel Duplicity by Talitha Kaligo.
I’d also like to recommend buying these books from Dymocks in Chermside, QLD. They have a Facebook page!
For readers who like a little rock ‘n roll (in all senses of that word, we strongly recommend Zaide’s short story as part of the Secret Confessions: Backstage series, which is available in a box set!
by Juliet Madison
For those who enjoy buying more stuff and couldn’t be bothered being tidy:
For those readers on your list who love a good romantic comedy, we can recommend Juliet’s three-book collection, featuring whimsical, light-hearted love stories for every woman who loves a good laugh.
by Viveka Portman
For the fiery feminist or woman seeking empowerment here are my three must read books:
This one goes through 3000 years of female courage and heroism; it covers all the greats. From the historic Amazons to China’s formidable Wu Chao, it carries across the globe right through to modern day ballbusters like Margaret Thatcher and US Military heroines from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.This book is inspirational for women and men who have the sense to know that history isn’t always made or written by humans with penises.
Personally, I think every school girl should be made to read at least some of these amazing stories. In fact – I bought it for my own daughter.
These are the stories behind well known (and lesser known) women who wittingly or unwittingly have helped shape Australian society. From the mother of poet Henry Lawson, to Edith Cowan (Australia’s First Female Paliamentarian) to Mary MacKillop – Australia’s first Catholic saint… this book is absolutely inspirational. Some of the women in this book rose from the darkest places to make a lasting imprint on this country – whether they are remembered for it or not. Read it, be inspired by it, and I guarantee you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself in the process.
This book is filled with the audacious exploits of some very strong and unusual women. From the strange and sad lives of early Indigenous Australian women like Mary Cockerill and Walyer, the reader discovers equally fascinating and tragic tales of early transgender women, like Miss Ellen Tremaye who later became Edward De Lacy Evans, and Marion “Bill” Edwards. This is not a book about ‘great’ women. It’s about women with hidden agendas, women who were unusual or just plain angry – but all left an indelible mark on the people who knew them. Definitely worth a look!
If you know readers who love historical romance novels with strong, unusual women, then be sure to check out Viveka’s Regency Diaries
, a quintet of brilliant regency stories, perfect for hot summer reading.