Collective Nouns for People
List of Collective Nouns for People & Professions
ADDucation’s list of collective nouns for people (also know as collective terms and terms of venery for people) can never be definitive but it’s fun. A “collective noun” refers to “plural-only” words, e.g. people for person. “The Book of St Albans”, published around 1500 included the first list of collective nouns for people. It was based on folklore, humor and the whim of the publisher and it’s much the same with our list! Let us have your suggestions and comments below…
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|Human Group||Singular||Collective Nouns for People||Collective terms||Explanation & Etymology|
|Actors||Actor||A cast of actors.||cast, company.||Cast, originally the “act of throwing”, was used from 1711 used to describe giving out parts in a play to actors.|
|Artistes||Artist||A troupe of artistes.||troupe||From French “troupe” meaning “company” or “troop” referring to a band of performing artistes including acrobats, singers, dancers, gymnasts, minstrels etc.|
|Butlers||Butler||A draught of butlers.||draught||A butler’s duties include looking after wines and liquor stored in the “buttery” (a room) by taking regular draughts to test for taste and quality.|
|Crooks||Crook||A bunch of crooks.||bunch||A crook is a bent “crooked” hook. Originally used to describe criminal activity it’s now commonly applied to politicians, corporations and governments worldwide.|
|Directors||Director||A board of directors.||board||The board is the “table where council is held” by the “directors” (guides) from French “directeur” and earlier Latin “dirigere”.|
|Employees||Employee||A staff of employees.||staff||Commonly used for office and hospital staff, possibly derived from a staff (baton) used as a badge of office or authority or using a staff as a support.|
|Experts||Expert||A panel of experts.||panel||From French “panel” and earlier Latin “pannellus” (piece of cloth) which became legalese term for “piece of parchment listing jurors” leading to the general sense of people called on to discuss, advise and judge.|
|Fishermen||Fisherman||A drift of fishermen.||drift, sulk, grumble.||These collective terms for fishermen suggest they’re not the happiest group of people!|
|Guests||Guest||A cohort of guests.||cohort||Used in tourism reports, business reports and in legal documents.|
|Husbands||Husband||An unhappiness of husbands.
||unhappiness||If you have any positive collective noun for husbands or relationships in general please share them!|
|Judges||Judge||A bench of judges.||bench||Judges originally sat on long benches when presiding over a court. As a collective term bench is also used to describe magistrates, bishops and aldermen.|
|Jurors||Jury||A damning of jurors.||damning||The right to a trial by jury was included in the Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215. A plaintiff found guilty was a “damning” verdict, from the Latin word “damnāre” to condemn which left the plaintiff liable to eternal damnation.|
|Listeners||Listener||An audience of listeners.||audience||Originally a gathering of people within hearing range. Derived from French “audience” (the action of hearing) and earlier Latin “audentia” (a hearing, listening) and has since been extended to include book readers, radio and TV show audiences.|
|Mourners||Mourner||A cortege of mourners.||cortege||The procession of mourners and vehicles moving slowly towards a funeral is called a cortege (from the french cortège, meaning “train of attendents”.|
|Musicians||Musician||A band of musicians.||band||Bands of cloth are worn as a mark of identification by organized groups, typically solders. Groups of musicians were originally attached to army regiments.|
|Nuns||Nun||A superfluity of nuns.||superfluity, convent, murmur.||English nunneries were overcrowded as nobles offloaded their daughters past marriageable age and there was pressure for church reform. During the Protestant reformation Henry VIII ordered the closure of convents and monasteries.|
|Painters||Painter||A misbelief of painters.||misbelief||Used specifically to describe portrait painters who had to strike a balance between flattering their patrons and painting a realistic portrait – which could easily be extended to a misbelief of Photoshop users today! It was the artists ability to create an illusion of beauty which led to misbelief in those viewing the portrait.|
|Pardoners||Priest or Friar||A lying of pardoners.||lying||“Pardoners” claimed to cleanse people of their sins offering absolution for a fee. Fraudsters led to charges of “lying pardoners” in City of London records.|
|People||Person||A crowd of people.||crowd||People from French “peupel” (people, population, crowd; mankind, humanity) and earlier Latin populus (a multitude, crowd, throng) gathering together. Perhaps the best known term of venery for people.|
|Player||Players||A squad of players.||squad||Sports teams are often referred to as squads.|
|Policemen||Policeman||A posse of policemen.||posse||Presumably from sheriffs, posse can be applied to any group of people with a common occupation or characteristic.|
|Policemen||Policeman||A squad of police officers.||squad||Squad is also commonly applied to soldiers. One of the most commonly known collective nouns for people.|
|Professors||Professor||in the professoriate.||professoriate||Collective term for a group of academic professors, typically in universities.|
|Sailors||Sailor||A crew of sailors.||sailors||From French “crue” (group of soldiers) through “gang of men on a warship” to “people acting or working together” not just on warships.|
|Sheriffs||Sheriff||A posse of sheriffs.||posse||From the wild west days “a body of men summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law”.|
|Singers||Singer||A choir of singers.||choir||From Latin “choir” (band of singers).|
|Soldiers||Soldier||An army of soldiers.||army||From French “armée” (armed troop) and earlier Latin “armata” (armed force) originally used for sea and land expeditions the term is now applies specifically to land forces.|
|Soldiers||Soldier||A regiment of soldiers.||regiment||Units organized systematically by being “regimented’ from the old French “regiment” (government, rule) and earlier Latin “regimentum” and “regere (to rule).|
|Soldiers||Soldier||A platoon of soldiers.||platoon||One of many collective terms applied to servicemen and servicewomen including company, division, unit etc. Platoon is from the French “peloton”, a small ball.
|Soldiers||Soldier||A squad of soldiers.||squad.||A squad is a also a popular collective term for policemen and one of the widely used collective nouns for people.
|Soldiers||Soldier||A troop of soldiers.||troop||Also used in the scouting movement, e.g. a scout troop. From the French troupe or Germanic/Frankish origin “thorp” for an assembly or gathering.|
|Students||Student||A cohort of students.||cohort||“Student cohort” is commonly used in educational circles when referring to a year group. See also a “class” of students.|
|Pupils||Pupil||A class of pupils.||class||Groups of students are often described as pupils and could also be described as a cohort of pupils.|
|Tapsters||Tapster||A promise of tapsters.||promise||A “tapster” is an outdated term for a barman/barmaid (who looks after the “taps”) and their promise with a nod, eye contact or other acknowledgement that you’re next to be served – which may well turn out to be a false promise! Shakespeare’s Celia and Rosalind in “As You Like It” reflect on this “… the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster.”|
|Teachers||Teacher||A faculty of teachers.||faculty||Educational institutions are often divided into faculties and teachers are faculty members.
|Tourists||Tourist||A flock of tourists.||flock||From Old English “flocc” (crowd).|
|Visitors||Visitor||A cohort of visitors.||cohort||Used in business reports and in legal documents.|
|Witches||Witch||A coven of witches.
||coven||Originally a gathering or assembly of witches until coven was first coined during the 1660’s. Popularized in “Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft” written by Sir Walter Scott and published in 1830.|
|Wives||Wife||An impatience of wives.
||impatience||For some reason collective nouns for partners are generally negative!|
Who Decides Collective Nouns for People?
There’s no official collective nouns committee, or authority, which approves new collective nouns. There’s nothing to stop you, us, or anyone else, coming up with new collective nouns and seeing if they gain popularity in lists of collective nouns.
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- This list of collective nouns for people was compiled by Joe Connor, last updated 09 Feb 2020.
Spotted a mistake or do you have a suggestion to improve our list of collective nouns for people? Please add your comments below…