Gay venery

Over in the lgbt precinct on Facebook, Michael Thomas asked:

why is there no such thing as a hive of homosexuals?

More generally, what’s the term of venery for queerfolk?

A term of venery, or venereal term, is a group-specific collective noun (like pride in a pride of lions). The early terms of venery were for animals; the word venery comes from Old French, earlier from Latin, based on the verb meaning ‘to hunt’ (the other sense of venereal, having to do with love and sexual desire, has a different etymology).

There’s quite a tradition of unearthing unusual and obsolete terms of venery (a murder of crows), for entertainment, and another tradition of inventing fanciful ones (an anthology of pros, for prostitutes); see Michael Quinion’s page entitled “precision of lexicographers”.

Now we have proposals for queerfolk, taking off from Mike Thomas’s a hive of homosexuals:

Bill Halstead: a throng of homos

Aric Olnes: a harrumph of homosexuals

Max Vasilatos: a horror of homosexuals; a gaggle of gays

Chris Ambidge: a squeal of poofters; a faaabulosity of homos

Jess Anderson: a nest of nancies; a passel of poofs

Michael Palmer: a perversion of homosexuals

with collective nouns chosen for their gay allusions or for alliteration. Weekend silliness.

[2/19: And the beat goes on. From Facebook and Google+:

Rod Williams: a basket of fruits [very cute, on several levels]; a quorum of queers; a Yellow Brick Road of Friends of Dorothy

Max Vasilatos: a barrel of butches; a bunch of dykes; a flock of femmes

John Dorrance: a felicity of gays

Greg Havican: a pride of pansies

Frank McQuarry: a hump of homos

Gary Robert Kelly: a yay of yags [yag is gay spelled backwards]

Will Parsons: a dizzy (of queens)

Robert Coren: a pissy of queens]

5 Responses to “Gay venery”

  1. Greg Stump Says:

    A confirmation of bachelors?

  2. Grk! Says:

    Credit to Truman Capote for “yag”.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Michael Palmer on Facebook, a pointer to The Daily Brad blog of 6/24/03 with invented terms of gay venery:
    A dish of brunch queens
    A clutch (as in pearls) of gay men.
    A U-Haul of lesbians. (James suggested “A lick of lesbians,” but we made him leave the table and think about what he’d done.)
    A confusion of bisexuals.
    A rage of AIDS activists.
    A peck of shirtless boys.
    A fancy of drag queens.
    A swagger of tops.
    A brace of bottoms.
    A tease of twinks.
    A press of muscle Marys.
    A bulk of bears.
    A largesse of sugar daddies.
    A bump of circuit boys.
    A desperation of trolls.
    A mess of therapy junkies.
    A raven of club kids.
    A hide of leather men.
    A delusion of ex-gays.

  4. W Says:

    Surely you can’t go past “a closet of gays”.

  5. A murder! | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] If only Pig had chosen to report “Crows have been murdered” or “Someone’s been murdering crows”!  Instead, Pig used the noun murder with of crows as its complement, and ran afoul of an ambiguity in the result: murder is also a term of venery, a collective noun specific to a particular group (in this case, crows); some discussion here. […]

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