Many of us learned about collective nouns at school. One of the many
oddities of the English language is the multiplicity of different names given to collections or groups, be they animals, birds, people or things. Many of these
examples of collective nouns are evocative, and extremely
You may have a distant memory of the common pairings, such as: a parliament of rooks; a run of poultry; a herd of bison; a pod of dolphins; a colony of ants; a swarm of bees; a school of cod; a shoal of herrings; a
tribe of natives; a cortège of mourners and many, many others.
However, Will and Guy have thought up some new, different, amusing and perhaps quirky English collective nouns,
hopefully, this list of collective nouns will make you smile!
About half of these assemblages are true, they are unlikely, but they are accepted as
collective nouns. The other half are funny collective nouns, but they don't
actually exist on official lists - however much we wish they did. See if you can separate the true
examples of collective nouns from the false. Check your
The Plain English Campaign is a group that has been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979. Consider some of these examples that made Guy and Will smile:
Take off lid and
push up bottom. [From a stick deodorant label]
These guidelines are written in a matter-of-fact
style that eschews jargon, the obscure and the insular. They are intended for use by the novice and the experienced alike. [From the United Kingdom Evaluation Society 'Guidelines for good practice in
Thought grenade [Management jargon as found in Office Angels survey - means 'explosive, good ideas']
This is a genuine ground floor opportunity to shape a front line field force operating in a matrix structure. [As stated on the 'Take a Fresh Look at Wales' website]
The delay to this service is
due to low adhesive conditions. [Otherwise known as 'slippery tracks', from First Scotrail]
The cause of the fire was due to a malicious ignition incident that was fortunately contained to the function and
meeting room area of the hotel. [News statement about a fire at a hotel]
Its clear lines and minimalist design provide it with an unmistakable look. It is daring, and different. So that your writing
instrument not only carries your message, but lives it. [Promotional literature for ... pens]
Where the policy is divided into a number of distinct arrangements ('Arrangements') where benefits are capable
of being taken from on Arrangement or group of Arrangements separately from other Arrangements, then this policy amendment will not apply to any Arrangements in respect of which the relevant policy proceeds
have already been applied to provide benefits. The policy amendment will apply to all other Arrangements under the policy. [Policy amendment, Norwich Union]
The Plain English Campaign has announced the winners of its Golden Bull
award for incomprehensible gobbledygook. Here, Will and Guy bring you their
top ten of the worst examples.
UK Department of Health website Primary
prevention includes health promotion and requires action on the
determinants of health to prevent disease occurring. It has been
described as refocusing upstream to stop people falling in the waters of
disease. Translation: Doctors can prevent disease before it
Patient Access to Electronic Records Limited
... I arrive at my GP, only to be told that I haven't until I converse
with a screen that invites me to 'Touch the screen to arrive'. My
electronic check-in is completed by touching a virtual button labeled
'arrive me'. Translation: When I visit my GP, I
need to touch a screen twice to check-in.
Lord Mandelson on MPs' expenses [this year's winner
of the Foot in Mouth award] Perhaps we need not more people looking
round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more
thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the
Prime Minister is getting right. Translation: MPs
don't need more scrutiny, just better scrutiny.
Equity Red Star Insurance motor insurance schedule Any endorsement number shown in this schedule but not included in
the endorsement appendix shall be deemed to apply and form part of the
appendix the endorsements bearing such number(s) being attached or
previously applied. Translation: Endorsements
listed here still apply, even if they're not in the appendix.
Dublin Airport Authority contractors' agreement
(c) Neither the execution and delivery by the Consultant of this
Agreement nor the consummation by it of any of the transactions
contemplated hereby, requires, with respect to it, the consent or
approval of the giving of notice to, the registration, with the record
or filing of any document with, or the taking of any other action in
respect of any government authority, except such as are not yet required
(as to which it has no reason to believe that the same will not be
readily obtainable in the ordinary course of business upon due
application therefore) or which have been duly obtained and are in full
force and effect. Translation: This contract is
bulletproof. Get on with the job.
LSIS (Learning and Skills Improvement Service) consultation
booklet [They ought to know better say Will and Guy] The
government calls insistently for more innovation. But doing things in a
new way will not necessarily lead to better outcomes. So, what do we
mean by innovation? We share the thinking of, for example, the Work
Foundation, which sees innovation not 'as a set of discrete and singular
moments of change' but rather as 'a culture or process in which drivers
of change are embedded in and facilitated by the strategic outlook of
the organisation'. To draw an analogy from nature, innovation may be
thought of as the new season's growth rather than a series of isolated
bright ideas. Translation: Change is, like, a state
of mind, you know?
US Internal Revenue Service tax form W-8BEN
Certificate of Foreign status of beneficial owner for United States Tax
Withholding Hybrid entity - a hybrid entity is any person (other
than an individual) that is treated as fiscally transparent in the US...
Reverse hybrid entity - a reverse hybrid entity is any person (other
than an individual) that is not fiscally transparent under US tax law
principles... Fiscally transparent entity... Disregarded
entity... Translation: To quote the writer Bill Bryson: "In the
space marked 'Tax Due', write a very large figure."
Coca Cola letter to distributors To outsource
some aspects of our finance transactional processing activities... we
will be transitioning certain transactional activities... there will be
two primary impacts to your organisation... does not impact your current
terms... aiming to minimise any disruption to our business, and we
expect our performance levels to stabilise soon after the transition
period. Translation: We're changing our payment
arrangements. Here's how it affects you.
JMJ Associates employee health and safety document Principle 4:
IIF begins with a conversation for possibility... In the domain of safety,
we have found people often do not distinguish between the conversations
for possibility and conversations for probability, two vastly different
conversations that produce vastly different results. Conversations for
probability are common in organisational life, and they help predict the
future based on what has occurred in the past. Conversations for
possibility are much less common and they help us create futures that we
could not have predicted from the past, something 'making the impossible
possible'. The language of probability owns the mind and the language of
possibility owns the heart; once the heart has embraced what is
possible, the mind will never see things the same again." Translation: We know the building probably won't catch fire,
but it might, and you should prepare for it.
Balaclava Public School letter to parents about making iced
cupcakes Dear Parent/Guardians, The Grade 7 Science
classes are nearing the completion for the unit Pure Substances and
Mixtures. In this unit, students have been introduced to the Particle
Theory of Matter, and to some of the terminology related to the field of
chemistry. They have also been given the opportunity to explore, and
conduct experiments related to the properties of solutions and
mechanical mixtures. At this time all students are encouraged to
discuss with you the content and expectations of the culminating task
along with how it will be assessed. This culminating task allows
students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that he/she has learned
throughout the module. Although students are responsible to
independently complete this task, we would very much appreciate your
assistance for the experimenting component, as students require access
to a kitchen and some ingredients to develop their own mixture.
Thank you in advance for your interest and co-operation. Translation: Your children are going to be making iced cupcakes
in your kitchen.
And One More For Luck: American Airlines 'Property Irregularity
Receipt' Translation: We've lost your luggage.
A top ten of the most annoying expressions has been compiled by
researchers at Oxford University in England. Top of the list was 'at the end
of the day', followed by 'fairly unique', reports the Daily Telegraph
'I personally' a phrase described by BBC Radio 4 presenter and
journalist, John Humphreys, as the 'linguistic equivalent of having chips
with rice' was third.
Also making the top ten is the grammatically incorrect 'shouldn't of',
instead of 'shouldn't have'.
The phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake
of confusing a squid with a squib. The researchers who compiled the list
monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University
Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet
and other sources.
The book's author Jeremy Butterfield says many annoyingly over-used
expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and 'synergy'. He
added, 'We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often: an anecdote, a
joke, a mannerism, and the same seems to happen with some language.'
10 Most Irritating Phrases in Full:
At the end of the day
At this moment in time
With all due respect
It's a nightmare
It's not rocket science
Will and Guy would love to know the expressions which bug and annoy you.
Please send them to us for inclusion on the site.
McClaren has won a prize - for speaking nonsense. The former England manager scooped the Plain English Campaign's Foot in Mouth award for a comment about Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and England
'He is inexperienced, but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through,'
Will and Guy muse on football manager speak in general, and it's
effect on England's failure
to qualify for Euro 2008 in particular. Do the players understand their manager's jargon - but ignore it. Or do they understand what he is saying, but are unable to act on the instructions.
Then there's the interpretation favoured by the fans, the manager does not know what he is talking about. See more football speak
There Is the 'Leaves on the track' cause célèbre
Other culprits singled out by the campaign, which works to stamp out unclear official information,
included Translink in Northern Ireland.
Apologising for recent delays, it said, 'Every autumn a combination of leaves on the line, atmospheric conditions and prevailing damp conditions lead to a low adhesion
between the rail head and the wheel which causes services to be delayed or even cancelled.'
The company added that it was committed to reducing delays by 'implementing a comprehensive low adhesion action
BAA [British Airports Authority] also received a Golden Bull award for its 'Passenger shoe
repatriation area', sign, found at London Gatwick airport in the place where shoes are screened
Recent Additions To Our Funny Noun Assemblage
A bloat of hippopotamuses (hippopotami sounds better)
A clutch of kleptomaniacs
A flunk of Students
Footnote: Please send us you examples of funny
If you like this page then please share it with your friends