A fine kettle of fish!

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Animals, Just for fun
Tags: , ,

Unless you’re cooking, fish don’t come in a kettle.  But if you see a group of vultures flying by, you’ve seen a kettle of them.  However, if not in flight, the group is a committee, a volt or a venue and if feeding, a wake (rather appropriate for whatever is dinner!)

The names assigned to groups of various animals are quite intriguing, as in the instance of an intrigue or kindle of kittens, rather than the more prosaic litter.  Here are some of the many unusual names I came across.

A bellow of trout
A cackle of hyenas…a fitting appellation
A bellowing of bullfinches
A drift of hogs
A deceit of lapwings
A gang of elk
A wisdom of wombats
An unkindness of ravens
A confusion of Guinea fowl
A shrewdness of apes
A fever of stingrays
A shoal of bass
A cete of badgers
A sleuth/sloth of bears
A sounder of boars  (as opposed to the sound of bores)  🙂
A paddling/brace/team of ducks
A company of parrots
A smack of jellyfish
A float of crocodiles
A flight/volery of birds
A grist of bees

And my favorites:

A fesnying of ferrets (or a cast or business)
A murder of crows
A rhumba of rattlesnakes
A gulp of cormorants…also very fitting, although when cormorants are used to catch fish, they have a snare tied around the base of         their throats to keep them from swallowing the fish.
A quiver of cobras

  1. M. R. says:

    A FESNYING of ferrets? – how come the ferrets are so unusual? I thought it would probably be associated with their rumoured habit of rushing up trouser legs … 😉

  2. I wouldn’t remember any of them. A group of any animals or birds will be a bunch of. Interesting topic though. Maybe my animail loving granddaughter will like this.

  3. Sandra says:

    I’ve always been intrigued by ‘a murder of crows’ and ‘a parliament of owls’, the latter being something of an oxymoron to my mind. 😉

    • My mom wondered who came up with these and I have no idea. But it must have been fun. Maybe when I’m back on the add-day internet, I’ll see if I can dig up any information on the origins of the choices. I can just imagine a group of owls all sitting around pretending to be wise. Isn’t that parliamentary?? 🙂


  4. … and two crows side by side is an attempted murder 🙂

  5. When some of my old friends and I were just starting out where we work and had the mundane tasks of helpers on the machines we would often come up with things like this to make the 12 hour night go by. I don’t remember any of these things being on the list; but what a great list it is.

  6. Pete says:

    ‘A gulp of cormorants…also very fitting, although when cormorants are used to catch fish, they have a snare tied around the base of         their throats to keep them from swallowing the fish.’

    I watched a BBC wildlife programme last night on the BBC iplayer called Wild China and they showed the men using cormorants, the 3 men all with the same name, from the same village all over 80 dance on bamboo rafts made from only four lengths of bamboo which is thicker than my arm to encourage the birds to fish, as you say they tie a collar of thread around the birds neck to stop the swallowing the birds, they happly dive down catch the fish and bring them back, they are treated to some smaller fish which is kept in a compartment inside part of a length of bamboo that makes up the raft.
    Unfortunately because of industrial fishing this type of fishing is now done for personal pleasure and to put a show on for tourists.

    If you want to see this fantastic programme its called ‘Wild China’ and you can find it on the BBC iplayer you will also find loads of fantastic wildlife shows. 🙂

    • I’ll have to look for that program, Pete. Thanks. Nice to see you. Hope you’re doing well.


      • Pete says:

        Nice to see and hear from you too. I am always floating in the background 🙂 I am also watching a programme called Island of the volcano its on Tuesday on BBC4 and the is a bunch of scientist looking for new species of animals so they can get the forest protected so far they have found 3 new bats, 3 lizards, new frogs and birds. They are now going into a volcano which has been dead for 100,000 years but because of the high sides no man has even been in and no animals could get out so animals have been trapped and evolved and it the trailer for it they find a new species of mammal which is the most important discovery since white man landed in Australia for the first time. 🙂 I am excited waiting to watch it ………. I am such a geek lol 🙂

  7. Most of these are new to me, how fun!

  8. helenscribe says:

    Oh the delights of the English language! Thanks so much for putting this together. Now I have something to add to any trivia game, and baffle my dinner companions at will (shakespeare that is)

    • My pleasure. I love finding fellow language enthusiasts to share my love of words and language. Have you read any books by Richard Lederer? If not, try starting with “Anguished English”, a book that has literally caused tears to run down my cheeks while reading it.


  9. This made my day. I would definitely love to be in company of a company of parrots or a wisdom of wombats, but perhaps not so much with an unkindness of ravens or deceit of lapwings.

  10. […] names, such as a gulp of cormorants and others I mentioned several years ago in my post, “A Fine Kettle of FIsh.”  In “The Three Amigos”, El Guapo tells Jefe that he has  a “plethora of […]

  11. BeckyB says:

    Most of these date from the 15th century, when English hunters came up with the names. The book they are all in is The Book of Saint Albans. Many are simply poetic or fun, but some based on observations and country folklore.

    For example it’s been suggested the murder of crows came about because some view the appearance of crows as an omen of death because ravens and crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries.

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