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

By Conor Friedersdorf

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/politics-and-the-collective-noun-a-bordello-of-lobbyists-etc/265334/