MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: why is a group of ducks called a paddle of ducks.

Date: Mon Nov 20 15:08:09 2000
Posted By: Andrea Bixler, Asst. Professor, Biology
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 973635795.Zo

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
and "Group Names for Birds"

Andrea Bixler

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