Politics and the Collective Noun: 'A Bordello of Lobbyists,' Etc.

A belligerence of neocons. A cyclotron of press secretaries. You get the idea.

supreme court full.png
A hospice of Supreme Court justices. (Reuters)

Collective nouns are most frequently used in the animal kingdom: A pride of lions. A murder of crows. A shrewdness of apes. A sounder of boars. A rabble of butterflies. A drunkship of cobblers.

A venerable tradition -- and isn't reading them strangely addictive?

I submit that it's time to expand this linguistic tool to the world of politics, where the present treatment of groupings is far too staid. Hence my list of suggestions. Please inject them in prose and conversation.

More than that, build upon them.

  • An axis of wonks.
  • A muzak of talking heads.
  • A friedman of taxi drivers.
  • A scandal of senators.
  • A capra of filibusters.
  • A cabinet of secretaries.
  • A forge (or jones) of Smithsonians.
  • A molestation of TSA agents.
  • A hospice of Supreme Court justices.
  • A stipend of interns.
  • A deceit of talking points.
  • A bordello of lobbyists.
  • A belligerence of neocons. 
  • An obama of drone casualties.
  • A cyclotron of press secretaries.
  • A euphemism of atrocities.
  • An ostrich of climate-change skeptics.
  • A david gergen of David Gergens.
  • A cirrhosis of happy hours.
  • A per diem of fundraisers.
  • A peroxide of Fox News anchors.
  • A slumlord of rent-control advocates.
  • A kabuki of debates.
  • A baldwin of Romneys.

Let's make these happen.

Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In