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sounder (SOUN-duhr) noun
1. A person or thing that makes sound.
2. A group of wild boars.
[From Old French sundre.]
"Yesterday I asked Bill to butcher two piglets from the sounder of eleven the sow dropped two months ago." Guy De La Valdene; For a Handful of Feathers; Atlantic Monthly Press; 1997.
The English language is rich in words that describe groups and collections, whether things, places or living beings: a bouquet of roses, a flight of stairs, a cast of actors, and so on. Even more fascinating are words - often poetic, and occasionally descriptive - used to denote groups of animals, such as a school of fish, a pride of lions, or a murder of crows.
Here are a few lesser-known terms used for collections of specimens from the animal kingdom. There are proper terms for almost all animals, but one can't just say "a bunch of this" or "a bunch of that". In fact, some animals take different group nouns depending on where they happen to be. A group of ducks are "a paddling" only if in water; in flight they become "a team".
Next time you camp out in the wilds and receive a visit from some uninvited guests in the form of, say, boars, you'll know what to say: "Help, I'm surrounded by a sounder of swine." Anything else and the park ranger may not come to the rescue.
At one time, all well-bred gentlemen were supposed to know these terms of venery (hunting). The "sport" of killing animals for fun has mostly died out, thankfully, and these terms have also become nearly extinct. How about coining some new words for collections? A diction of word-junkies? A linkup of webmasters? A bugaboo of computer programs? Can you think of other creative group nouns?
-Anu Garg garg AT wordsmith.org
Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. -Flannery O'Connor, writer (1925-1964)
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