why do people say “a parliament of owls” instead of “a brood of owls”? :?
There are any number of these fanciful COLLECTIVE NOUNS for animals, Flora. Many of the words reflect our subjective feelings about the nature of these animals, and I suppose that a group of owls looks a lot like a group of fusty old politicians in Parliament.
In any case, it would not be brood, which is a group of young animals with the same mother.
“Any number of” means “a lot of” in this case.
Have a look at the Wikipedia list of collective nouns for birds:
But I’d also like to mention, that I’d never heard of a “parliament of owls” before today. :shock: I think most native speakers have probably never heard of the majority of the “collective nouns” listed on the Wikipedia page(s).
I’d say it’s usually used exactly the way Mr Micawber used it, i.e. “There are any number of …”
“There are any number of jokes about blondes, but they all have one thing in common: the blonde is always dumb.”
To be more precise with the definition, maybe I should describe it this way: "a large number of " or maybe also “a wide variety of.”
Hope Mr. Micawber agrees.
I agree. And some of us do know and use, with relish, some of the collective nouns, like a gaggle of geese and an exaltation of skylarks. You’ll often see coinages too-- a heck of Bushes, etc.