Logophile Tuesday: A Skulk of Trolls

I am a fan of the absurdities contained within the English language. Collective nouns, for example, are delightfully entertaining and almost entirely pointless. The serve nearly no linguistic use, and there is certainly no need to have a different one for every countable noun that might bother to gather in numbers exceeding two.

Some favorites:
An observance of hermits
A mess of iguanas
An exaltation of larks

I love them.

They are not only satisfyingly poetic, they are absurdly specific. “Herd,” for example, would work perfectly well to describe any group of land-bound herbivores. However, when referring to rhinoceros, we have decided that we should instead call it a crash; useless, confusing, and delightfully evocative, isn’t it? That particular example, though, is rapidly being made obsolete. It can only be used in the historical or the hypothetical: “Remember when you could go out on the savanna and see a whole crash of rhinos thunder by?”

As the rhinoceros is hunted to extinction along with its collective noun’s utility, new groups of things are created, and it is our duty as citizens of the modern era to add meaningless titles to them else we risk losing that preciously unnecessary component of our language.

What are some individuals in need of being collected?

Some thoughts:
A skulk of trolls
A camp of newbs
An index of logophiles

Any others that you can think of? What about cosplayers, astronauts, reality television stars?

Have at it!


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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