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More out of curiosity than out of need, I was just wondering whether it would be possible to have a second-order collective noun for something, e.g.:

One crow becomes
Several crows becomes
A murder of crows becomes
Several murders of crows becomes
???

No harm done if that's the biggest it can get (a plural of a collective noun). But if it's possible to have something on a larger scale than that, then I'd love to be enlightened!

P.S. I'm not even sure that this would be useful in any way, beyond communicating that there really are a lot of crows!! So if you can think of a useful purpose for a second-order collective noun, it would also be nice to hear that.

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    What do you mean by a "collective noun"? Are you talking specifically about the artificial, extremely specific terms for animal groups like "murder of crows" (sometimes called "terms of venery")? Or are you including natural-sounding expressions like "group of", "assembly of", "team of" that aren't just used for particular animal species, but for many other things? It's simple to say "a group of murders of crows".
    – herisson
    Sep 7, 2017 at 19:15
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    I'm not sure that 'collective noun' is well-defined. Is 'staff' a collective noun? 'Government'? Probably. 'Pair'? 'Quartet'? Do two pairs always constitute a quartet if they're together? Sep 7, 2017 at 19:16
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    several murders of crows becomes a massacre of crows I would think.
    – Jim
    Sep 7, 2017 at 19:35
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    And of course several massacres of crows becomes a genocide of crows. :-)
    – Jim
    Sep 7, 2017 at 19:36
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    In combinatorics/finite set theory, you have a set of crows, and a family of sets of crows. That is, the members of a family are sets.
    – Mitch
    Sep 7, 2017 at 19:40

1 Answer 1

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Yes, consider the Roman military:

(Numbers may vary across history.)

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