|MadSci Network: Zoology|
Merissa, Lots of animals have been given "collective" names (names for a group of them) that are mainly just for fun. My understanding is that many of these collective nouns were invented in the Victorian Age by people who were essentially just playing word-games. The collective noun "paddle" or "paddling" for ducks is presumably derived from the fact that ducks paddle (swim by moving their feet back and forth underwater like you would move the paddles on a canoe). However, I wasn't able to locate a source on the etymology of this term. Most scientists don't use these collective nouns; for example, most ornithologists talk about "flocks" of any kind of bird, including ducks. It's bad enough learning all the common names and scientific names of different animals; having to learn a different collective noun for each would be tough! Still, like I said before, it can be fun, and if you're interested in learning other collective nouns (or making up your own), you might check these websites: "A Colorful List of Collective Nouns for Animals" http ://trident.mcs.kent.edu/~mscherge/Other/animals.html and "Group Names for Birds" http://www.bcpl.net/~tros s/gnlist.html Enjoy! Andrea Bixler
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