Many years ago, when I first encountered different names for different groups in English, I was really shocked. I had never imagined a “group” of birds is any different from a “group” of wild dogs before, and it took me a while to adapt. Here I use quotes on “group” because they are not supposed be called “group”. They are supposed to be called a flock of birds and a pack of wild dogs. Then the things get interesting. Sometimes they can be used interchangeably and sometimes they cannot. It all depends on the whim of the language that is beyond my comprehension. For example, herd can be used on sheep, but cannot be used on goats. Pack can be used on dogs, wolfs, but not lions. Troop can be used on monkeys and humans, but not on any other animals. Why? Don’t ask me. I have long since stopped asking why and resigned myself to the inevitability, no matter how strange I think it is.
Here is a list of just a few of these and I think there are a lot more that I don’t know. And please let me know if you have encountered any that’s on or not on this list.
pack: a group of wild animals, especially wolves, living and hunting together.
school or shoal: a group of fish.
colony: a group of bacteria derived from the same mother cell
flock: a number of birds of one kind feeding, resting, or traveling together.
bed: a bed of clams
bevy: a group of birds, especially quail, particularly when closely gathered on the ground.
covey: a mature bird or pair of birds with a brood of young
pride: a group of lions forming a social unit.
swarm: a large number grouped together and usually in motion
herd: a large group of animals, especially hoofed mammals, that live, feed, or migrate together or are kept together as livestock.
If you think there are too many words for groups to describe animals, wait until you see the different names to describe a group of people. It is an endless list. I can only list a few. There are so many others. If you have encountered or used any, please give me a comment.
crew: a group of people who work on and operate a ship, boat, aircraft, spacecraft, or train. They are basically a group of colleagues and coworkers.
troupe: a group of dancers, actors, or other entertainers who tour to different venues.
troop: soldiers or armed forces. From the smallest unit to the biggest, there are platoon, company, battalion, regiment, brigade, division, corps.
clique: a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.
posse: a body of men, typically armed, summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law.
throng: a large, densely packed crowd of people or animals. This is not to be confused with thong, which is one of the uncomfortable garments the world cannot stop inventing for women.
coterie: a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.
fraternity and sorority: a group of people sharing a common profession or interests. Usually it has a Greek name, for some inexplicable reason and it is very popular on college campuses.
clan: a group of close-knit and interrelated families
sect: a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong