3

All collective nouns that I can think of are words that have a different meaning in addition to that role as a collective noun.

eg.

herd - a herd of sheep; I herded the sheep in to the paddock.

flock - a flock of birds; People flocked to see the spectacle in town.

murder - a murder of crows perched in the tree; The man was in jail for murder.

Are there any words that now only serve as a collective noun?

  • Can you give an example of words that have a different meaning in addition to their collective noun meaning? – dwjohnston Jan 14 '16 at 23:36
  • Pride, murder, herd, flock, exaltation – Dancrumb Jan 14 '16 at 23:39
  • To your herd, flock, (as nouns always collective) I would add Parliament, Covey, and also platoon, regiment, committee. To your Pride, Murder Exaltation list, I would add Skein, murmuration. – Hugh Jan 14 '16 at 23:44
5

"Mankind" means the human race or men as distinct from women. Either way it is a collective noun.

"Womenfolk" and "menfolk" are collective nouns only too.

And in line with the OP's examples: "bevy": a large group of people or things; a large group of animals, especially quail.

And my favourite is "clowder": a group of cats. This is the only meaning given in Wiktionary. And you we can be sure that no one will ever use clowder as a verb, because, as everybody knows, you cannot clowder cats. Herd cats, I mean.

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  • 2
    Upvote for the impossibility of clowdering cats. – deadrat Jan 15 '16 at 4:43
3

Yes.

Example:

A badelynge is a collective noun for ducks on the ground, but it has no other known meaning in English that I can find. Badelynge is listed as a collective noun for ducks (sometimes Mallards) on the ground in many sites that list collective noun names:

And just in case you think someone made it up recently, here is a 19th century field guide from England that references the term badelynge as a group noun:

The Shot Gun and Sporting Rifle - And the Dogs, Ponies, Ferrets, etc. Used with Them in the Various Kinds of Shooting and Trapping, by John Henry Walsh, London, England, 1862.

The term badelynge does not appear in most dictionaries as dictionaries often don't list collective noun definitions save for the most prevalent cases. For example, you often do not see "collective noun for swans" listed among the definitions of "bank," nor "boys" under "blush," nor "girls" under "giggle."

As dictionaries so often don't list them, finding a glossary of group nouns at one point vexed me. That was until I found the following:

As it is Wikipedia, so anyone can make up any old thing they want, I've made it a point to verify any word I wish to adopt through other sources, just as you find I did with badelynge. Nevertheless, it remains a good starting point, a good place to begin a search for a group noun.

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1

Gaggle, maybe?

As in "a gaggle of geese".

I don't think that's used anywhere else... but I could be wrong.

Update:

According to wiktionary, "gaggle" can also be a verb, meaning to cackle (sounding like a goose) apparently. The example is given from a quote in 1733, so... not exactly modern. Is it even still used in the modern vernacular?

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