charm, conspiracy, murder

Have a look at the table below:

Animals English Russian Spanish
animals, especially grazing mammals herd стадо manada
birds flock стая, косяк bandada
cows drove, herd стадо vacada
dogs, wolves pack стая jauría
fish school, shoal косяк banco, cardumen
flying insects swarm рой enjambre
horses drove, herd табун caballada
people crowd толпа gentío
sheep flock отара rebaño

Even very common collective nouns are not unequivocally translatable from one language to another. (Surprise, surprise.) For example, English flock typically refers to a group of birds — but also some mammals, e.g. sheep. Russian косяк is used to describe a shoal of fish as well as a wedge (V-formation) of some migratory birds. Spanish vacada literally means “herd of cows” and therefore does not require specification “de vacas”; so, it does not have an exact equivalent in either Engish or Russian.

English has an incredible number of “terms of venery”, many of which however are almost never used. This website claims to contain a definitive list of English collective nouns, and not just for groups of animals*: from regional bike and archaic kindle to invented terms such as shrewdness and flamboyant flamboyance. Some of these refer to rather specific “collectives”. For instance, brace means a pair and leash stands for a set of three. Geese form a gaggle when they are on the ground or on the water but skein when they are in flight, while kettle is only used to describe a group of airborne birds riding a thermal.

an army of ants
a bevy of quails
a bike of bees
a brace of pheasants
a business of ferrets
a cete of badgers
a charm of finches
a chime of wrens
a cloud of bats
a clowder of cats
a colony of gulls
a congregation of eagles
a congress of baboons
a conspiracy of ravens
a covey of grouse
a crash of rhinos
a cry of hounds
a dazzle of zebras
a drift of swans
a drove of oxen
a fever of stingrays
a flamboyance of flamingoes
a gaggle of geese
a host of sparrows
a kettle of hawks
a kindle of kittens
a kit of pigeons
a leash of greyhounds
a murder of crows
a murmuration of starlings
a mutation of thrushes
a pack of wolves
a plump of fowl
a pride of lions
a puddling of mallards
a raft of hippos
a school of whales
a shrewdness of apes
a siege of herons
a skein of geese
a skulk of foxes
a sloth of bears
a sounder of wild boar
a troop of monkeys
a wedge of ducks

* Even so, it does not include an ontology of information architects.

Collective nouns

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