Q: Where did the names of groups of animals, like herd of cows and gaggle of geese, come from? (Asked by Nancy Heustis, Greenwood)

R: There are many words that refer to different animal groups, and some are a bit strange. It seems these collective nouns are called ?terms of venery,? with ?venery? being an archaic word for hunting. The nouns for different groups of animals stem from the late Middle Ages and English hunting tradition. The terms were developed as a sort of hunting language. How they came up with some of the terms is not known, and more were probably added over the years. At any rate, there?s a bunch of them. Some include more common collective terms, such ?herd,? ?flock? and ?school,? but there?s a lot of specific ones, too.

Here are a few. See if you know your animal groups:

An army of ants

A shrewdness of apes

A cete of badgers

A clowder of cats

A dule of doves

A gang of elk

A skulk of foxes

A troubling of goldfish

A drift of hogs

A pride of lions

A parliament of owls

A covey of quail

A gaze of raccoons

A dray of squirrels

A rafter of turkeys

A bale of turtles

A descent of woodpeckers

Aren?t you glad I didn?t make it a quiz?

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): ?Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.? --Mark Twain

Curious about something? Send your questions to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, College of Science and Mathematics, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649, or e-mail jerry@curiosity-corner.net. Selected questions will appear in the Curiosity Corner. For Curiosity Corner background, go to www.curiosity-corner.net.