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A Collection of Collective Nouns (minicast)

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And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: The results of the “A Way with Words” Collective Noun Contest! What collective noun would you apply to groups of 1) tennis players, 2) aliens from outer space, and 3) language-loving word hosts? You sent us a cleverness of witty entries, and Martha has the winners.

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  • I’m not sure how to categorize a volley of tennis players, but in the early 1960’s, as a young sailor, I became acustomed to such terms as a ”confusion” or Ensigns or an ”illegitimacy” of Marines. (My son is one – so cut me some slack, ok?) There were many more, but it may take a while for me to recall others that may be used on dry land.

  • Ha – those are great, Tom. I hope you’ll continue to chime in with more of your firsthand experience, either on our show, or our discussion forum!

  • I liked this one cuz i have never thought about collective nouns in english. In portuguese we have lots of them, for example one for fishes, one for boats, for cows and etc. But thinking of it in english is a totally brand new thing for me. It’s really broaded my mind! LOL

  • Actually, there is no difference between live fish or caught fish, they are all fish, which is “peixe”. The collective noun for fish (peixe) is “cardume” and for cows is “manada”, if im not mistaken… gotta confess these colective nouns are really a “pain in the ass”, as some native would say… we dont use those words, and if we wanna say lots of fishes we just say it, we dont use the word that designate this meaning.

  • Hello everyone i really need to know some collective nouns in space for my project and its really hard to find/think of collective nouns. If u happen to know some could you tell me? i already have crewmates spacemen fleet and belt. Id be really happy if you could help!

  • Hi, Tammy — It’s hard to know exactly what you mean here by “collective nouns” in this case. What’s your project?

  • May Jorge Faria doesn’t know, but we have different words in Portuguese for live fish (peixe), and caught fish (pescado).

  • Well, xico, that’s what I thought as well, but I just returned from a couple of weeks in Argentina, and everyone I spoke with was using “pescado” for both live fish and “fished” fish. So I’m wondering if there are regional differences in both languages.

  • Hi Martha! You know the way people use the language… and this is the how languages evolve. Though I’m not an expert, I’m sure the “correct” is peixe for live fish, and pescado for caught fish. In the place I live (São Paulo), people tend to say peixe for both, but I know in other regions of Brazil, and Spanish speaking countries in South America, people will say pescado for both.

  • Well, calling it “pescado” while it’s still swimming around sounds like what we call in English “counting your chickens before they’re hatched.” (Do you have an equivalent phrase in Portuguese?)

    Btw, I’d like to invite those of you participating in this comment thread to move over to the Discussion Forum, where we’d like to move these threads. I’ve picked up the discussion we’re having here in this message thread, so please join in!

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