In Search Of A Collective Noun For Anoles

Is this an embarrassment of anoles? Image from

Is this an embarrassment of anoles? Image from

For natural history students, professionals and enthusiasts some of the most entertaining, albeit fairly useless, facts are the collective nouns used to describe a group of organisms. From taxon to taxon, collective nouns are literary (a murder of crows), descriptive (a prickle of porcupines or a sneak of weasels), mundane (a shoal of sticklebacks), and even absurd (an aurora of polar bears).

When I first read the headline of Jonathan’s latest dispatch to the New York Times Scientist at Work blog, An Embarrassment of Anoles, I briefly thought that anoles had their very own collective noun. But alas, I was wrong and a group of anoles isn’t (yet) referred to as an embarrassment.

In a quick flurry of googling I found words for groups of various amphibians and reptiles: crocodiles (bask), cobras (quiver), iguanas (mess), frogs (knot), toads (knot), salamanders (congress) and lizards (lounge), to name a few. But nothing for anoles!

Does anyone know of a collective noun for anoles or, failing that, have a suggestion?

About Anthony Geneva

Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. I use a variety of evolutionary genetic approaches to ask questions about gene flow, adaptation and speciation.

12 thoughts on “In Search Of A Collective Noun For Anoles

  1. I actually like “embarrassment” because the Anolis system could be seen as an embarrassment of riches (lots of diversity). I also like a “force of anoles” – for the Star Wars geek in me, of course.

  2. I second (or 3rd) an embarrassment of anoles–I think it’s descriptive (as per Martha’s description).

    I also like a “bushel”, or “fleet” given their ability to move around.

  3. I’d advocate any of the following:

    A blaze, a bob, a dash, a hubris, or a vanity of anoles.

    Bob your head if you agree.

  4. Given that collective nouns are used for gatherings – voluntarily- of social animals and the fact that Anoles do not fit in that cathegory, I’d suggest the collective noun to be an ‘unprobability of anoles’

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