Why are geese in a gaggle? Are lions actually proud? And do crows deserve their murderous moniker?
Collective nouns are one of the most bizarre and baffling aspects of the English language, and this absorbing book tells the stories of these evocative phrases, exploring and explaining the etymology behind them.
Each collective noun summons up the animal or event it describes. But where did they come from? 'A parliament of owls', for example, seems to have its origins in the 1950s children's classic The Chronicles of Narnia in which C.S. Lewis references a phrase from Chaucer, 'the parliament of fowls'. Lewis' version changed 'fowls' to 'owls' and due to the international success of his books it caught on and is now recognised as dictionary compilers as the 'correct' term for a group of owls.
Perfect for any history or language buff, this is an entertaining and fascinating look at many of the bizarre phrases which have stood the test of time.
Chloe Rhodes is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent on Sunday, as well as in several other national publications. Her previous books include A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: Words We Pinched From Other Languages and One For Sorrow: A Book of Old-Fashioned Lore, both published by Michael O'Mara Books.