Friday, February 4, 2011

Addendum on gaggles

OED says about gaggles:
One of the many artificial terms invented in the 15th c. as distinctive collectives referring to particular animals or classes of persons; but unlike most of the others, it seems to have been actually adopted in use.

An early example:
(1584) A shoale of goslings, or (as they saie) a gaggle of geese.

Google provides this list of 15th century collective nouns. Here are some more at the Baltimore bird club. There is also a book, An Exaltation of Larks, by James Lipton, that I sort of want to buy... ("Exaltation of larks" makes an appearance in one of the odes in Auden's Orators.) Perhaps one can attribute the failure and general unviability of many of these terms to the fact that they were coined by John Lydgate, the "voluminous, prosaic and drivelling monk" of Bury.

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