Jonathan Glenn Reinhardt: Blog

A Parliament of Owls, a Cauldron of Bats, and a Vexation of Zombies

Most of us, when discussing groups of animals, know some of the proper names, but not all of them. For instance, we know a group of sheep is a flock, a group of wolves is a pack, and a group of cattle is a herd. We may even know that apes come in troops, fish come in schools, geese in gaggles, and little girls in giggles. But then there are those that might surprise us: a parliament of owls, a  cauldron of bats, a coalition of cheetahs, a murder of crows, an exaltation of larks, a shiver of sharks, a sneak of weasels, a prickle of porcupines, and a lump of toads.

Of course, to quote one old sailor I talked to in Maine out on the platform of a lighthouse after I asked what a group of seagulls might be called, "You can always say 'a whole sh*tload of 'em.'"

That's all well and good, you might say, and move on like a sane human being should, to concentrate on more important things -- like college football. Or, say, your homework or whatever else in your life is behind deadline (cough).

Or you might, because it is one o'clock in the morning -- and why not, right? -- wonder what you might call groups of animals that only exist in the supernatural. We already know demons come in legions, angels in hosts, and extraordinary gentlemen in leagues. So how about elves, hobgoblins, vampires, golems, dragons, and banshees?

I give you the answer:

Supernatural Collective Nouns