Collective Nouns and Chimps

a horn of chimps

So I was writing this blog entry the other day about “Foot Thumbs” and how awesome they are (you should read it; it’s both cutting and insightful) and I hit on the topic of Collective Nouns. English is bizarre in that we give groups of things specific names to replace the word “group.” But we’ve all agreed that these collective noun words will only apply to specific groups of things.

Think of all the ones you know – school of fish, swarm of bees, pride of lions, pit of vipers, Flock of Seagulls… All sound perfectly normal. (Except Flock of Seagulls. They sound terrible.) Now switch them up. Read this out loud: pit of fish, pride of bees, school of vipers, swarm of lions. Now that just sounds insane! Why would anyone say that out loud?!

As far as I know, most other languages don’t do this. (I’m not claiming they all don’t, just I don’t know any that do. And I should know – I’ve studied 2 1/2 of them.) It seems quite a useless function of language. But that’s part of what makes English so fantastic.

Anyway, in this blog I was writing yesterday (which is completely revolting yet intoxicating, you should read it) I mentioned that Sigourney Weaver referred to a bunch of chimps as a “posse” and that I didn’t think that was correct. I looked around on the internets and actually found a common word used to describe a group of chimps – cartload. A cartload of chimps.

We can all agree that “a cartload” is outlandish and absurd. (I am not even going to put this up for debate. If you think “a cartload” is a good group name for anything besides a bunch of things in a cart, you are just as outlandish and absurd as a cartload of chimps!) Furthermore, chimps have foot thumbs and therefore deserve a heavy dose of respect (respek); they deserve far better than “cartload.” (For more on foot thumbs and why they are totally awesome, you should read my previous post which is both scandalous and underhanded.)

And so it is up to us to create a new collective noun for chimps and then use it excessively in public so as to have it seep into the lexicon and become accepted by the masses. I’ve taken the liberty to come up with the best word candidates for this. I leave it to you to decide.

  • a HORN of chimps
  • a RHUMBA of chimps
  • a PICKLE of chimps
  • a BOWIE of chimps
  • a CAN of chimps
  • a HINT of chimps
  • a BUREAU of chimps
  • a SIMILE of chimps
  • a BADGER of chimps
  • a YOUR MOMMA of chimps

OH BAM! You walked right into that.


  1. Miranda on 20 April 2007 at 6:14 am

    I vote for a hint of chimps. Perhaps a soupcon of chimps, a whit, a trifle.
    Yeah, that’s what she said.

  2. Lordleiter on 20 April 2007 at 6:20 am

    I just found that RHUMBA is already used for rattlesnakes. That one is out of the running. How dare they take my good ideas!

  3. Max von Fischgeist on 20 April 2007 at 6:25 am

    I’m gonna go with my own on this one. A BUCKET of chimps. Can’t use barrell as that’s reserved for monkeys. Alternately, I offer for your consideration warble. A warble of chimps.

  4. Max von Fischgeist on 20 April 2007 at 6:32 am

    Wait, wait… I think I have the winner. A TWIST of chimps. Incidentally, that is also a key ingredient of a fashionable new shooter at TGIFriday’s — 99 Bananas with a twist of chimps.

Leave a Comment