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a blessing, a doom and a pryde walk into a bar...
September 10, 2008 6:25 AM   Subscribe

You have a murder of crows, sleuth of bears, even an exaltation of larks, what about Fairies?

the only other mythical creatures I've been able to find collective nouns for are Unicorns (a blessing), Sasquatch (a pod), Griffins (a pryde), and Dragons (a doom)

In a recent conversation with a friend, he mentioned that "Goldbond Medicated Powder is like a squadron of fairies blowing on my testicles."

clearly a squadron just feels wrong in this sentence (among so many other things that are wrong with this sentence...) so what would the right collective noun be for a pack of pixies?
posted by jrishel to Writing & Language (53 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
A glitter?
posted by chillmost at 6:28 AM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


A charm of Fairies?

Also your friend is very correct in his description of the excellence that is Gold Bond.
posted by sanka at 6:29 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think it's a clan.
posted by watercarrier at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2008


Other suggestions: a blush of fairies. a bliss of fairies. a whisper of fairies. a buzz of fairies. a warm-fuzzy of fairies. a twinkle of fairies. I could go on.
posted by spicynuts at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2008


OH, and...I want to hear the punchline of that joke please.
posted by spicynuts at 6:31 AM on September 10, 2008


A herd of fairies...
posted by not_on_display at 6:41 AM on September 10, 2008


In early modern English plays, I've seen "a troupe of Fairies." All my fairy books are at home, but in the meantime, Katherine M. Briggs would be a good source.

(I wrote a Newberry seminar paper and my senior thesis on early modern fairies in undergrad, and my advisor wrote this book, so while I'm ashamed I don't know off the top of my head, I am dying to find out.)

It's very important to be precise about such things as the Gold Bond pixies.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:43 AM on September 10, 2008


Flurry.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:44 AM on September 10, 2008


I always thought it was a parliament, but that could be from Little, Big.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:49 AM on September 10, 2008


Shakespeare says its a "troop":

MISTRESS FORD: Where is Nan now and her troop of fairies, and the
Welsh devil Hugh?
- Merry Wives of Windsor: V, iii
posted by vacapinta at 6:51 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


A hoax of fairies.
posted by fire&wings at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


If any book could tell you, it would be the Dictionary of Collective Nouns & Group Terms, written by Ivan George Sparkes (White Lion, 1975). Check your local library; it's out of print and not really possible to buy anymore. You might also look in A Crash of Rhinoceroses by Rex Collins, but something tells me that "fairies" won't be in that book.
posted by k8lin at 6:54 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why, but for some reason the first thing that popped into my head was a clutch of fairies. I'd imagine I read it somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can remember where.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2008


A mince.

Who made up these terms? What is the basis for their authority?

Reader's Digest?
posted by Phanx at 7:01 AM on September 10, 2008


Working off of Google, a group of fairies seems to be most commonly called a "group of fairies." There's also "bunch of fairies," but I think that refers to something else.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:04 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another book on the subject is An Exaltation of Larks. I loved it in high school and am just now discovering was written by James Lipton?? Unfortunately I don't have my copy with me so I can't look this one up, but the book is highly worth checking out.
posted by doift at 7:05 AM on September 10, 2008


Without the script in front of me to confirm, I seem to remember it being referred to as a "band of fairies" in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe. But I'd chalk that up to the general whimsy of its creators.

***HIGHLIGHT TO VIEW SPOILER!!!***
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:10 AM on September 10, 2008


Well, if we're allowed to just make stuff up here, I think based on the olde school depiction of them as rather capricious creatures, I'd call it a menace of fairies.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:29 AM on September 10, 2008


JaredSeth: "I have no idea why, but for some reason the first thing that popped into my head was a clutch of fairies. I'd imagine I read it somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can remember where."

Huh, I thought of "clutch" too, immediately followed by "wonder where that came from."
posted by librarina at 7:36 AM on September 10, 2008


I think it's troop/troupe, based on past usage. Which, when you think about it, is pretty close to a squadron; I believe your friend may plausibly have meant more than one troop, which can in some militaries add up to a squadron.

Among the new candidates, "menace" is a great proposal, though I also like mince and hoax. My first instinct was a ferry.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:40 AM on September 10, 2008


My instinct is for "troop of fairies," supported by the classical distinction (I'm not sure if it originated with Yeats; the wikipedia article isn't clear) between trooping fairies and the solitary sort.
posted by dorothy humbird at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2008


Plenty of good info on what's proper here. I just want to chime in and say that squadron sounds fantastic in that sentence.

Like they're on a mission in hostile territory.
posted by piedmont at 7:56 AM on September 10, 2008


librarina, sadly a "clutch of fairies" nets us only about a half dozen Google hits.

I don't suppose you've ever read either Phantastes or Lilith by George MacDonald? Or maybe The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison? Those are about the most obscure things I've read featuring fairies.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:58 AM on September 10, 2008


it's a 'cavalcade of fairies.'
posted by lester at 8:00 AM on September 10, 2008


A ring of fairies.
posted by kimdog at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I prefer a machiavellian cabal of fairies myself, but I think a sprinkle, a flight, or a flurry works too.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:21 AM on September 10, 2008


A frivolity of faeries.
posted by elendil71 at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2008


A sprite of fairies.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:27 AM on September 10, 2008


They are born and live within families. It's not random or arbitrary. It's a clan and google seems to think so too- not that 646,000 hits are the precise query - but enough to convince.
posted by watercarrier at 8:30 AM on September 10, 2008


The term "clowder" is properly used when referring to a group of cats, but I like extending it to any group that's sufficiently cat-like -- a loose confederation that can't be corralled or herded, each member a flighty little creature with its own whims, absolutely no cooperation. Fairies strike me as being sufficiently cat-like in personality that I think "clowder" could work in certain situations.

However, given that the fairies near your friend's scrote are working together to soothe his bozack, the collective term should here probably be something with more connotations of cooperation. So I agree with those above who suggested troupe or band. "Band" is used in A Midsummer Night's Dream, in Act III, Scene II: "Captain of our fairy band" is how Puck refers to Oberon at one point.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:34 AM on September 10, 2008


A fabulousity.
posted by orthogonality at 8:38 AM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


They are born and live within families. It's not random or arbitrary. It's a clan

1. This worries me. Kind of like the earlier remarks apologizing for having left the relevant fairy books at home.

2. Family-ness, assuming we can agree that this is descriptively accurate and verifiable, has nothing to do with. It's a bed of oysters, and they are not literally a bed, nor spontaneously and autonomously created. I think it's a troop of baboons. Ditto.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:40 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Troop" shows up a lot, because Yeats divided fairies into "trooping" and "solitary."

He also used host, but most people interpret that referring to something bigger, like an army, or a 'fairie court.' In other words, 'the host,' not 'a host.' He even offered "fairy cavalcade" as a translation of macra shee.

"Clan" feels like a modernism, used by people obsessed with pseudo-Celticism.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:45 AM on September 10, 2008


Yeats divided fairies into the solitary and trooping fairies, as did James Macdougall in Folk Tales and Fairy Lore. But this was ascribed to their activity - not to their collective association. Poets as a rule tend to give color to things that are beyond their comprehension or scope of knowledge and in doing so will at random pin a description that best fits their perspective - not necessarily reflecting what is - only how they perceive it to be.
posted by watercarrier at 8:48 AM on September 10, 2008


You can call them a family if clan is too political for you. Basically it is the same thing with clan giving more emphasis on rank and title. Which fairies care about by the way. Just like humans.
posted by watercarrier at 8:50 AM on September 10, 2008


clyde - then what do you call a group of humans?
posted by watercarrier at 8:51 AM on September 10, 2008


clyde - then what do you call a group of humans?

Occasionally, an "asylum."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:54 AM on September 10, 2008


what do you call a group of humans?

That question is actually why I think "clan" doesn't work; it implies a familial or political group, when the OP's group of ballsfairies may not even be related. They might just all work for the same company or something, and you wouldn't refer to a bunch of people in the same office as a "clan."

"Band", to me, implies a nice balance between each member having its own individual specialty and working together for a common goal. I think "It's like a band of fairies blowing on my low-hangers" is the best way to go in this instance.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


A few google seaches suggests that the word Faerie is in fact a collective noun in itself- "the fay", from old english (not "the fey", which means fated). In other words, the "Faerie folk", rather than individual fairies. Oxford University Press adds:

That fairy at one time was a collective noun can be guessed from its suffix, familiar from chivalry, peasantry, and cavalry, among many others.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking of a "flitter" of fairies, for the alliteration and imagery alone.
posted by misha at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2008


If we're allowed to suggest them: A "lick" of fairies, or a "phosphene" of fairies.
posted by not_on_display at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2008


I suggest a mist of faeries.
posted by oddman at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2008


"Ring of Fairies"
posted by adamvasco at 10:29 AM on September 10, 2008


I love the multiple levels on which orthogonality's answer works, personally!
posted by dhartung at 11:57 AM on September 10, 2008


My first instinct was for a flock of fairies, which nets 3760 Google hits, including its own website!
posted by platinum at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2008


A poof, no?
posted by Oddly at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2008


Fairies are often seen as composing a 'court', in the sense of being a group in attendance on royalty, but lately 'a court of fairies' seems to moving in the direction you're talking about.
posted by jamjam at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2008


Upon further reflection, I see that the OP treats fairies and pixies as perfectly synonomous, and nobody here balks or even questions the matter.

If we're dealing with this wrenching issue that casually, and the creatures in question are just blowing on someone's balls, I say it's a spinach of fairies, and I say the hell with it.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:29 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


A flutter of fairies...
posted by Jade Dragon at 6:05 PM on September 10, 2008


@Clyde Mnestra, I was wondering how long it would take for someone to call me out on using pixies as a synonym for fairies.
posted by jrishel at 6:49 AM on September 11, 2008


A wish of faeries!
posted by headspace at 7:09 AM on September 11, 2008


Fairies work as a unit and individually - that's a given - whichever they are a force representing an element. So - a force of fairies.

Fairies are the earth-bound angels that assist mankind with issues dealing with nature, fields, growing and maintaining the land. They aren't anything even remotely of what the media has represented - they don't even have forms - they are mists of light in various gradations, hues and intensity. They are - sparks of energy.
posted by watercarrier at 1:16 PM on September 11, 2008


Fairies work as a unit and individually - that's a given - whichever they are a force representing an element. So - a force of fairies.

Fairies are the earth-bound angels that assist mankind with issues dealing with nature, fields, growing and maintaining the land. They aren't anything even remotely of what the media has represented - they don't even have forms - they are mists of light in various gradations, hues and intensity. They are - sparks of energy.


I think this pretty much rules out my initial instinct, which was a "buttload" of fairies.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 1:58 PM on September 11, 2008


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