A collective noun for brats

22Jun11

Now if you live in the United States, which is about half the readers of this blog, then this post is going to be a complete mystery to you. Over here in England, where the English live, we speak a language called English. We’ll pause here so you can read that sentence again.

Now in England we have collective nouns. In fact at age six or seven we had a whole class on collective nouns. You know the sort of thing, a pride of lions, a school of fish, a swim of swans, a crash of rhinos, you get the idea (or not).

We learnt that people came in groups, or sometimes gangs (as do baboons apparently), oh and fruit comes in bunches.

Can’t imagine how this would have been handled in the US.

“Listen up children, we have the United States’ foremost academic on the collective noun and he is going to be teaching you today.”

“Hey kids great to be with you. Now do you know what a collective noun is? Let me give you an example. Here were have a bunch of chairs, a bunch of tables, and you are a whole bunch of kids. Now that’s the tricky part and what we will look at today. When do you say a ‘bunch of’ and when do you have to say a ‘whole bunch of’?”

“Oh sir, sir, what about half bunches?”

“Half bunches?”

“Yeah, if you have a whole bunch then you just gotta have half a bunch?”

“Just how old are you young lady?”

“I’m 26, I teach nuclear physics over at CalTech.”

“Dr Jones is one of our brightest students, she had a PhD and everything,” the teacher beamed. “She just can’t get the collective noun.”

“I see, well screw the lesson just bring me a paddle.”

Now here is the thing, and this is serious, does anybody know, what is the collective noun for brats?

The nearest so far is gaggle? What about slipper or a spank of brats? It is usually a word that is also verb-like. What do you think?

Oh and before the flames start coming in, next week we will do a post on irony, pronounced i-R-ony with a hard R and not iony with a silent R.

This would be an appropriate place for a wink.



13 Responses to “A collective noun for brats”

  1. 1 Lana

    why not a pack of brats? Then the picture above might be captioned “the brat pack” 😉

  2. 3 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    A scold of brats.

    Seems to me this topic has been addressed somewhere before on the interwebs, possibly on Devlin O’Neill’s site. And yes I do realize “scold” has a meaning independent of this new one I’m giving it. But usage establishes meaning, or so they say.

    And perhaps in the interests of fair play we should also take suggestions for a collective noun to describe a group of pedants! — you know, those who pedantically insist on correct usage of words, and so forth.

    • 4 DJ

      I know I am becoming a grumpy old man but I heard a scientist trying to speak about various sets of nano-particles and atoms and after three bunch of’s and two bunches in one sentance I was struck but his dull and inarticulate manner of speech and realised that sometimes it does matter.

      After all one does presume he might have had an education and it is mostly Americans. 😉

      • 5 Karl Friedrich Gauss

        That does sound to have been rather inarticulate, to say the least, but you can imagine how hard it must be to come up with collective nouns that suit the character of subatomic particles no one’s ever seen or heard much about.

        I’m reminded of an old Steeleye Span song about a “parcel of rogues”. Now there’s an oddball collective noun!

        The song features words by Robert Burns expressing views on those in the Scottish parliament who voted for the union with England in 1707.

        Here’s a link to a Youtube clip of the song: http://youtu.be/gLufwtSZiIs

      • 6 scarlet

        Ouch, DJ. Somehow I feel like I ought to come up with something to defend my countrymen. Maybe he was fixin’ to say something better, but he plumb forgot!

        How about an articulate of Americans?

        A mellifluous of Americans?

        A fluent of scientists? Oh, no, that would be just silly. I think the problem is he’s a scientist. Their brain synapses are all clogged with chemical formulas and cures for diseases. They can’t be expected to handle vocabulary too!

  3. 7 Poppy

    I think on Dev’s site we declared it to be a mischief of brats, although I think it should have been a joy of brats or perhaps a delight.

  4. 8 Mindy

    A school of brats?
    A charm of brats?
    A siege of brats?
    A paddling of brats?

    What about a collective noun for Tops? A tyranny of Tops? I think it’s a scold Tops at Dev and Poppy’s.

  5. 9 scarlet

    hmmm. I think I’ll go with an obedience of brats, and a trouble of tops.

    Or a frolic of brats and a roguery of tops.

    Or a mutiny of brats, and a treachery of tops?

    So many ways to look at these things. Depends on your perspective.

  6. 10 Kaki

    I have seen it as a mischief of brats and I believe a cuddle of Tops. If we change the term from brats to angels we can say a herald of angels. Hmm, maybe not, I could hear some Top say during a mass spanking, Hark, I hear a herald of angels sing.

  7. 11 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    So many excellent suggestions from so many eager commenters; How will we ever choose the best ones for our stylebook?

    And we need a name for that stylebook. Perhaps instead of “Strunk and White”, it could be “Black and White”! (tagline: no grey areas)

  8. 12 paul1510

    DJ.
    how about, an impulse of Imps or a bombast of brats. 😀
    Karl, thanks for the Steeleye Span, talk about a golden oldie, what a great sound.
    Maddy has such a distinctive voice, a perfect counter-point to the boys voices.

  9. Being one of the Americans “scorned” on here I must stick up for my fellow countrywomen/men! I don’t know about the others but where I grew up collective nouns WERE taught! Gaggle of geese, a murder of crows,a herd of cows etc. ;p Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Oh and I too agree with Poppy a mischief of brats. 😉


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