The Winners: James Lipton Picks Your Best Collective Nouns

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Generations of word lovers have been turned on by James Lipton’s An Exaltation of Larks. The book details the provenance of more than 1,100 “nouns of venery,” as they are were called in the 15th century, including a pride of lions, a smack of jellyfish, an ostentation of peacocks, and many more.

In his research for the book, Lipton (best known as the host of Inside the Actors Studio) discovered that linguists in 1486 delighted in making up names for people, as well: a superfluity of nuns, an eloquence of lawyers, an incredulity of cuckolds. “And that’s when I began to play the game,” he says. He would invite his friends over to invent new ones — the playwright Neil Simon suggested “a mews of cathouses.”

Kurt Andersen challenged listeners to continue the game, coming up with collective nouns for ten modern types of people, including hipsters, venture capitalists, and yoga instructors. We received thousands of invented nouns. Lipton served as our judge.

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An enigma of conceptual artists

An enigma of conceptual artists
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Conrad Bakker/flickr)

 

A deck of Trekkies

A deck of Trekkies
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Brian Wilkins/flickr)

 

A rave of DJs

A rave of DJs
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/4ELEVEN Images/flickr)

 

A hedge of venture capitalists

A hedge of venture capitalists
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/401(K) 2012/flickr)

 

An altcommandcontrolshift of IT guys

An altcommandcontrolshift of IT guys
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Peter Taylor/flickr)

 

A pan of critics

A pan of critics
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Shutterstock)

 

A festival of indie filmmakers

A festival of indie filmmakers
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Stacker/flickr)

 

A vintage of hipsters

A vintage of hipsters
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Bill Dickinson/flickr)

 

A salutation of yoga instructors

A salutation of yoga instructors
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Taro Taylor/flickr)

NOTE: Ken Wieland also suggested a "salutation," but we failed to credit him on-air — Ken, we salute you!

 

A Ring of opera goers

A Ring of opera goers
(Credit: Julia Lowrie Henderson/Trey Ratcliff/flickr)

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