What Is the Common Noun for a Group of Kittens?

The English language is full of fun words to describe groups of animals. These words are called collective nouns or terms of venery.

The English language is full of fun words to describe groups of animals. These words are called collective nouns or terms of venery.

Inquisitive, energetic, exuberant and exhausting are all terms that come to mind when trying to describe a bunch of little kitties. Cats and kittens have been called many names over the years. Some names have stuck and are now used to refer to a group of felines.

Terms of Venery

If you've ever wondered who came up with such crazy terms for animal groups, you're not alone. In his book, “An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition," James Lipton lists most of the terms we use today to describe animal groups and includes many more we probably have never heard of. His research goes back 500 years to the days when hunting was a gentleman's sport and members of the so-called upper-class flaunted their education by playing word games while hanging out at hunting clubs. Over the years the tradition continued and spread beyond the social elites. Many of these coined phrases became accepted terms for groups of all kinds, not just animals.

Kitten Terms

Like many other baby animals born to the same mama, a group of kittens is commonly called a "litter." They can also be called a "kindle," and this term refers specifically to kittens rather than any random group of baby animals. In Old English, "kindling" was a term used for birthing, and this is most likely where the noun originated from. Another seldom-used term for a group of kittens is an "intrigue." While kittens are certainly curious and intriguing creatures, the term more likely became associated with them back when "entanglement" was an accepted synonym for the word. A rowdy group of kittens can definitely be described as an entanglement of fuzzy little bodies.

Cat Terms

There are several words associated with cat groups, including "clowder," "clutter," "cluster," "clutch" and "pounce." Imagine what you would see if you came upon a group of cats in the dark with their eerily glowing eyes; it is easy to see how the term "glaring" came to be yet one more name for a group of cats. A group of wild cats can be called a "dout" or a "destruction" -- no need to wonder how that word association came about.

Mistaken Identity

If anyone offers to let you play with their mischief of kittens, you may want to decline the opportunity. A group of rats is sometimes called a "mischief." Baby rats and mice are called pups or kittens. So a mischief of kittens would actually be a group of baby rats, not cuddly little felines, though the term mischievous would be an apt description for a group of cute little furballs.

 

References

About the Author

Jenny Newberry, a former teacher with 25 years of experience, is a professional writer and photographer and holds a B.S. and a M.Ed. in elementary and special education from the University of South Alabama. She is also a history buff, praise and worship pianist, pet enthusiast, avid crafter and hobby gardener.

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