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#1 2014-08-16 12:39:19

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1184

A cloud of cats

Between the space left by the all-but-closed door, and very close to the ground, Doctor Prunesquallor saw a face as round as a hunter’s moon, as soft as fur. And this was no wonder, for it was a face of fur, peculiarly blanched in the dim light of the hall. No sooner had the doctor reacted to this face than another took its place, and close upon it, silent as death, came a third, a fourth, a fifth . . . In single file there slid into the hall, so close upon each other’s tails that they might have been a continuous entity, her ladyship’s white clowder.

So goes another hallucinatory, dreamlike tableau from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. A clowder of cats is one of those fanciful names for a collectivity of animals, like a murder or a wisp. You might think, especially from the passage above, that it rests on a resemblance to clouds. This would be mistaken except in a wayback etymological sense. A clowder is a variant word for a clutter, from back when clods and clots and clutters were close kin. So those who recognize the fluffy insubstantiality of cats can be forgiven for thinking they come in a cloud or a clouder.

I grew up with a clouder of cats (Yes! “Clouder” is the collective noun for cats! Gorgeous isn’t it?). At one stage we had six cats at once!
blog profile

Group words, in the english language, vary. We list here some of the common group words. ... 7) A group of boys. 8) A cloud of cats.
The Sterling Book of Effective English Writing

Royal Paws recently moved my cloud of cats from Connecticut to Florida. I wanted to make the move as easy as possible for the clould.
Pet Transport testimonial

The word “cloud” is a collective noun for cats, “a Cloud of cats”; but never a “Cloud of Saints”!
Exegesis

A wolf goes missing from his pack. The nearby cloud of cats is blamed. ...
Online fic

Last edited by David Bird (2014-08-16 12:41:42)

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#2 2014-08-16 18:42:14

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 637

Re: A cloud of cats

Who am I to disagree when you opine on felines from the cat-Bird seat?

(Sorry; it just slipped out.)

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#3 2014-08-16 19:17:13

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: A cloud of cats

Some of these old collective nouns are utterly bizarre, and all the lovelier for it. This is a new one for me and fluffily apposite. Nurtured as I was, though but, on cartoonish stereotypes, I ventured a punt on some connection with little fishies, and was not disappointed:

It had become a habit of hers to stand at this particular window, from which a world lay bare, a chowder of cats at her feet and her dark red hair full of nests.

A sleuth or sloth of bears A clutter or chowder of cats A murder of crows A cloud or horde of gnats A troop of kangaroos A muster or ostentation of peacocks A …

... a chatter of budgies; a kaleidoscope of butterflies; a wake of buzzards; a chowder of cats; a bed of clams; a quiver of cobras; a cast of crabs; ...

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#4 2014-08-16 20:09:21

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Santa Rosa, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 637

Re: A cloud of cats

How about this variation:

When Leonard returns to the apartment later, Sheldon is surrounded by a crowder of cats whom he has named after other participants in The Manhattan Project.
synopsis of TV show

Here they come tumbling, the latest crowder of cats and kindle of kittens; the rough street-walkers, the mischievous mogs, the groomed family favourites, the anthropomorphic whirl of paws and whiskers.
book review

Curious as to the correct plural for a group of cats (herd?), I dug online and found the suggestion of a “crowder” of cats. I’ve not heard this word before, and there are few references to it for the sake of credibility, but it’s rather fun to say. “Our crowder of cats came with us on our early evening walk.”
blog

There are also quite a few examples of “crowd of cats”, though rarely if ever is there very strong reason to believe that it’s a substitution for “clowder” as opposed to just a normal use of the word “crowd”.

Players are shipwrecked on a mysterious island and then forced to partake in deadly “performances” for the entertainment of a crowd of cats.
game description

Illustration of crowd of cats sitting on roofs…
artwork description

...a beat-up, cringing crowd of cats rescued from the streets of Applesap by Miss Toonie.
book synopsis

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#5 2014-08-17 13:21:57

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1773
Website

Re: A cloud of cats

My favorite (invented, afaik, by Ronald W. Langacker): “a felony of cats”. Right up there, for me, with “a lot of realtors”.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#6 2014-08-17 13:40:11

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: A cloud of cats

An alternative to clowder is, apparently, a glaring of cats. Fits well with those felonious felines.

In 2008 it seems many of us came up with wunch as a collective term for bankers. Not half strong enough I fear.

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#7 2014-08-19 00:58:29

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 945

Re: A cloud of cats

Yep, very much American. They’re small, which is why they were so cheap. Hunters would bag a lot of them during squirrel season. It’s almost the same as eating quail, which don’t get that big either. But yes. My grandma had a recipe for a tray of squirrels cooked in onions and red wine. So good!
http://community.babycenter.com/post/a4 … 49370&pd=7

Though No Human ever touched this place, a human figure did stand upon the fear inducing grey and red stone pinnacle. At the very crumbling spit of the spine which hides the secret world below he was perched. Watching, with eyes that are umber brown and simultaneously black as below wheeled a duel of Doves.
http://oneladydracor.tumblr.com/post/18 … how-to-fly

Disturbed is a duel of doves, and the coos of their panicked flurry warn a persistent drake pursuing a reluctant duck, now relieved that her suitor has been distracted.
http://jerseyjayne.com/tag/nature/

Overhead in the trees was a dual of doves and below a man and woman just spending some time chatting
A Western Western

A sword of mallards exploded off a quiet river pool, southbound, a ruckus of wings
http://books.google.ca/books?id=23lZp-Z … 22&f=false

Venereal acorns: a drey of squirrels, a dule of doves, a sord of mallards. The origin of a drey, or nest of squirrels, is unknown. A dule, like a dole, was a sadness, as in dolour or doleful (these might be silicisms). A sord of mallards was a flight, from the same L. root which gave us a surge and a sortie. Hmm, by the way, no one thinks of it as a flight of mallets, do they? Nah, no way.

I did enjoy your venereal sorties above. As in The Venereal Game, of course.

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