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Quirky Collective Nouns

A murmuration of starlings, a parliament of owls, a mischief of magpies, and a murder of crows. One reason English has more words than other language is its considerable collection of quirky collective nouns. The origin of this phenomenon is said to be The Book of Saint Albans, a hunting manual for the medieval gentleman of leisure that provided a list of "terms of venery" - collective nouns used to identify groups of specific animals that also conveyed a hint about those animals' essential characteristics. These words were meant to help hunters better understand the behavior of their quarry. (Note to self: stay away from crows).

As time went on, writers who wanted to fancify their phrases or add a sparkle to their speech expanded this glossary of group words beyond gamebirds to include other animals ( a shrewdness of apes or a prickle of porcupines), inanimate objects (an oodle of noodles or a smorgasbord of fjords), and even occupations ( a litigation of lawyers or an expectation of midwives). Of course, financial newsletter writers have their own unique collective noun - a razzmatazz.

 So as long as there are people who demand no restriction on their diction and have a very good nature towards nomenclature, the terms of venery will live on as a charming feature of the English language.

A razzmatazz of writers prepare to get the party started as another edition of the newsletter is about to be created.

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