Group Names: Introduction to Venereal and Other Group Terms

(traditional and modern group names that try to describe group characteristics)

Historical background for terms of Venery

There are many group names from traditional terms of the hunt and some current creations that attempt to describe group charcteristics. Such historical nomenclature, or terminology, called Venereal Terms or Terms of Venery, were said to refer to a gathering of "group names" or collective nouns from the hunt and social functions.

Venereal terms, or the language of the chase (hunt), were in general use as well-established hunting terms. The nomenclatures are shown in the lists in italicized text and these are the terms that were considered the proper terms for groups of beasts, fish, fowls, insects, or whatever was designated and they were "codified in the fifteenth century".

According to James Lipton, in his An Exaltation of Larks, 1968, surviving lists include: The Egerton Manuscript (106 terms, from 1450) and The Book of St. Albans (164 terms, from 1486). The groups are referred to as: "nouns of multitude", "group terms", and "terms of venery".

Lipton also wrote, "venery and venereal are most often thought of as signifying love, and more specifically, physical love. From Venus we have the Latin root ven which appears in the word venari, meaning 'to hunt game'."

Eric Partridge, a specialist in lexicography, wrote in his etymological dictionary, Origins, that ven in venari has its original meaning of "to desire and pursue". Venery came to signify the hunt and it was used in all the early works on the chase, including the earliest known on the subject of English hunting.

In addition, Dr. Ernest Klein, in his A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, writes that venery means hunting (archaic), from Latin venari, "to hunt, pursue", which probably derives from Indo European (I.E.), "to strive after".

Venery terms were part of the education of the wealthy

"William Blades in his Introduction to the 1881 facsimile edition of The Book of St. Albans, refers to the book's subjects as 'those with which, at that period, every man claiming to be gentle [a "gentleman"] was expected to be familiar; while ignorance of their laws and language was to confess himself a churl' " (Lipton, page 10, 1968).

Many of the words in the Venereal Terms: Names of Groups unit have no authoritive basis and have been created, either seriously or humorously, by people to express possible names for the various groups represented in the terms.

Here is an attempt to clarify the different "hunt, hunting" and the "love, fondness" terms: venat-, "hunt, hunting"; vener-, "love, sexual references"; Names for Groups or "Venery names"; Venereal Terms or "names for a variety of groups".