A Stumble of Zombies: Collective Nouns for Monsters

One of my favorite books that I read to my daughter (I’m stealing it the first chance I get) is A Dignity of Dragons by by Jacqueline Ogburn and Nicoletta Ceccoli.


What this book does is address the much needed names for collective nouns of mythical creatures. What the heck is a collective noun? Well, back in the nineteenth century, Victorians got awful bored with out any television or internet. They played a game where they thought up clever names for groups of animals. The idea was to get a name that encompassed the spirit of the animal. Some of my favorites are a crash of rhinos or a flamboyance of flamingos. Get the idea?

Jacqueline Ogburn came up with all sorts of collective nouns for mythical creatures, like: a bolt of hippogriffs, a splash of mermaids, and a dazzlement of Quetzalcoatls. I wanted to continue this trend, only with creatures from horror. Specifically classic monsters. Here’s what I came up with.

  • a stumble of zombies
  • a coffin of vampires
  • a howling of werewolves
  • a bolt of Frankensteins*
  • a tanna of mummies**
  • a caldron of wiches
  • a clang hunchbacks
  • an ectoplasm of phantoms
  • a haunting of ghosts
  • a glow of will-o-whisps
  • a bottle of djinn***
  • a trample of kaiju****
  • a decapitation of headless horsemen
  • a tinker of gremlins
  • a hunger of ghouls
  • a husk of scarecrows
  • a marrow of skeletons
  • a translucence of invisible men
  • a beaker of mad scientists
  • a lever of henchmen
  • a scream of victims
  • a probe of aliens
  • a circuit of robots

If you can think of any to add to the list (no serial killers or the suck, just classic monsters) then add to the comments below.

Tim Kane

*Yes I know that the doctor is actually Frankenstein, but in the sequel it called the Bride of Frankenstein, and she’s intended for the monster, so… Let’s just settle on Frank as the monster’s name.

** Tanna leaves were a device introduced in the later mummy movies as a way of controlling the creature.

*** I know lamps are more common, but a lamp of djinn sounds weird.

**** This is the name for the giant Japanese monsters like Godzilla and Mothra. Go ahead, check out the wiki site.

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7 comments on “A Stumble of Zombies: Collective Nouns for Monsters

  1. Renee says:

    I like this idea. A group of witches is a coven- or that’s the only thing I’ve ever seen them called. I have seen zombies referred to as a plague, an infestation and (according to http:www.wondermark.com/566/) a vexation. Stumble is more fun though. A group of banshees is a wail. A group of ghosts is a fright. A group of phantoms is a phantasmagoria. Coven is most widely used for vampires but I have also seen vein, bite and kiss to refer to a group. A general grouping of monsters might be a marvel. Or perhaps a terror or horror. Something (I don’t know what) should be a nightmare just because I like the idea of that being a collective noun for some monstrous thing.

    • Purple Dave says:

      I’ve been referring to zombies as a “hunger of zombies”. It works for fast or slow zombies, where “stumble of zombies” only really works for slow and clumsy ones. It also seems more fitting than “appetite of zombies,” and has more panache than horde/swarm/mob/plague/whatever.

  2. […] timkanebooks.com (stumble of zombies, but also has some other great suggestions for horror creatures) […]

  3. Karolyn Hardaway says:

    Fane of Monsters Not specific monsters but a collection or group of monsters

  4. LJ Reece says:

    How about a “mystery of cryptids,” cryptids being a term for any animal that is claimed to exist but whose existence has not been proven.

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