An Unkindness of Ravens

A very kind friend of mine added to my collection of reference books with a Christmas gift of An Unkindness of Ravens: A Book Of Collective Nouns by Chloe Rhodes. The book is perfect for a word-nerd like me, giving not just the more well-known words such as a pride of lions or a shoal of fish, but more obscure ones like (ahem…) a worship of writers. Explanations as to the origins of the words are included which makes for interesting reading.

There are some that seem self-explanatory and even a little sarcastic such as an obedience of servants, a goring of butchers, or a crash of rhinoceros. But some are not so obvious. For example a worship of writers does not imply that the writer should be worshipped (more’s the pity) but rather that writers, being historically dependent on patrons, needed to make ‘fawning dedications’ with every new piece of work.

A superfluity of nuns is derived from the fact that in medieval times nunneries were overcrowded. Today it could be read in a completely different way, in that no matter how many nuns exist it’s too many.

As you can see I’ll get hours of enjoyment and useless trivia from this great little book. I’ll leave you with this picture which a mate of mine posted on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, knowing that I’d be one of the few people that would actually laugh out loud at it.



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