Collective nouns

A collective noun is a word which we use to define a group or collection of people, animals or things. In the phrase a herd of elephants, the word herd is a collective noun.

English has hundreds—if not thousands—of collective nouns. Don’t worry – even native speakers don’t know them all!

Here are some of the most common collective nouns:


Collective noun Phrase
a herd a herd of elephants
a herd of deer
a herd of cattle
a pack a pack of wolves
a pack of dogs
a flock a flock of birds
a flock of sheep
a swarm a swarm of bees
a swarm of flies
a shoal a shoal of fish



Collective noun Phrase
a group a group of people
a crowd a crowd of people
a gang a gang of thieves
a gang of youths (derogatory)
a panel a panel of experts
a panel of judges
a board a board of directors
a bunch a bunch of idiots (derogatory)
a troupe a troupe of acrobats


Collective noun Phrase
a bunch a bunch of bananas
a bunch of grapes
a bunch of flowers
a bunch of keys
a pack a pack of cards
a pile a pile of rubbish
a set a set of rules
a group a group of islands
a series a series of events
a shower a shower of rain
a fall a fall of snow

Don’t forget that a collective noun can also be made plural. We can say:

  • two bunches of keys
  • three piles of rubbish
  • four packs of wolves, etc.
test_upper4 Practise this vocabulary (upper-intermediate): Vocabulary exercise – collective nouns