A Murder of Crows

Jen Dziura —  October 5, 2011

This image — hilarious to those with formidable lexicons — has been making its way around the Internet lately:

Of course, this is only funny if you 1) recognize what crows look like, and 2) know that a murder is a group of crows.

Really? Yep! Just as you would say “a pack of dogs,” many other animals also have unique collective names:

Covey of partridges
Ostentation of peacocks
Charm of hummingbirds
Float of crocodiles

Here is a list of many more.

Most of these are rather silly, but a few contain good GRE words:

Horde of hamsters
Drove of hares
Aerie of hawks
Passel of possum
Coterie of prairie dogs
Bevy of quail
Rout of wolves

A horde is “a large group, multitude, number, etc.; a mass or crowd,” or “a tribe or troop of Asian nomads” or “any nomadic group.” Genghis Khan’s grandson Batu famouly led the Golden Horde.

A drove can be a number of oxen, sheep, or swine driven, but in the plural, droves, refers to a large crowd of people, especially in motion.

An aerie the nest of a bird of prey, as an eagle or a hawk, or “a house, fortress, or the like, located high on a hill or mountain.” Here is a previous post about the word aerie, which is also the name of a lingerie store.

A passel is “a group or lot of indeterminate number.” In other words, “a bunch,” as in, “I’ve got a bunch of towels here,” or “There’s a passel of condiments on the table.”

A coterie is “a group of people who associate closely” or “an exclusive group; clique.” Prairie dogs are probably called a coterie because they live in communal burrows.

A bevy is a large group or collection. From 500 Advanced Words, 1st Edition: Manhattan GRE Vocabulary Flash Cards:

Usage: The bar owner cringed when a bevy of women in ridiculous tiaras came in “ Another drunken bachelorette party, he sighed.

More Info: Bevy is most commonly associated with birds, and often used to describe groups of people who stick together like a flock of birds “ it usually implies a not-very-serious opinion about the group in question.

A rout is “a defeat attended with disorderly flight” or any overwhelming defeat. You can also use it as a verb, as in “to rout an army.” Why is it a rout of wolves? Well, a rout of wolves could certainly rout you.

And that brings us back to the murder of crows. Attempted murder! Nerd joke!

Jen Dziura

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