Collective nouns are words that, although treated as singular, describe a group of people, places, things or ideas. A wide variety of such words exist, but not all of them can be used in every context. The classic example is collective nouns for people. A band of soldiers is fine. A band of rocks is not. Use our list to get comfortable with both common collective nouns for people and some downright weird ones.
Group nouns for people take a number of different forms. Some are generic: they can describe almost any collection of people. Others are limited by number, by the sort of people they describe, or by any number of other variables. Here's a list - indeed, a list of lists - of words for groups of people.
First and foremost, these are the words you need if you just want to describe a group of people. These words all have connotations of their own but are generally safe to use for any group of people. For example, you could have a "team of athletes practicing" or a "team of painters decorating."
Here is a list of words that can be used for different groups of people:
Some group names refer to particular people, or groups that have gathered for a specific reason. Here follow some of those words, with extra context.
As with groups of animals, English has words for groups of people that are not just specific but unique referring to one and only one kind of person. Some interesting examples include:
A conflagration of arsonists
A conjunction of grammarians
A coven of witches
A den of thieves
A flight of dancers
A glitter of generals
A host of angels
A rage of maidens
A quiz of teachers
A slate of candidates
A sprig of vegetarians
A tabernacle of bankers
A thought of barons
A wheeze of joggers
A wiggle of Elvis impersonators
An attitude of teenagers
An illusion of magicians
An impatience of wives
An unhappiness of husbands
Collective nouns have always been an opportunity for wordsmiths to exercise their sense of humor. For more collective nouns and their often glorious oddness, have a look at our collection of collective nouns for animals (a group of cats is a clowder!).
That said, they're still words, and words can be tricky. Collective nouns, in particular, can pose challenging grammatical questions of number and case. If you're having trouble, check out our extensive guide to collective nouns.