Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Angela Kubath, duck, badling
"Alone Duck" by Angela Kubath


Noun. L15.
[Perh. var. of paddling verbal noun of PADDLE]

A small group of ducks.

I love collective nouns (or terms of venery to be precise). I have an ongoing debate with my brother-in-law who gets most irate at the mere mention of one. According to him, they're immensely frustrating because you have no way of looking them up in a dictionary. If you want to know what a group of rhinoceroses is called, for example, how do you look it up? I have tried explaining that this is the purpose of encyclopaedias or reverse dictionaries, but it's to no avail; he is determined to nurture his indignation. 

To illustrate badling, I have chosen two extremes. The first is a most beautiful painting of a duck (albeit a markedly solitary duck) by the artist Angela Kubath, a print of which hangs proudly in my office and has done for many years. Beautiful it is, but a badling it isn't. The second is a video which most definitely does show a group of ducks, albeit a group that somewhat stretches the definition of a small group of ducks. To reach the proper proportion of a badling, set your mental image at somewhere between the painting and the video, and you should be be near enough.

Oh ... and a group of rhinoceroses is called a crash.


  1. Waaaaaaaaaa :O What the... Look at the ducks! Look at 'em! They're everywhere! They just keep coming!

    Question. If a baddling is a small group of ducks, what would a large group of ducks be called? Because sometime, somehow, someone made a distinction between the two. And if there's a word for the one, then there should be a word for the other as well.

  2. You know, I raised exactly the same point with one of the first words I wrote about, ABACTOR, which is a person that steal cattle "in large numbers"! Who sets the threshold?

    Regarding what a larger group of ducks is called, I don't know. I did some research online, and have come across the following terms of venery for ducks:

    A paddling, a raft, a team (when in flight), a sorde, a flush, a brace and (my favourite) a twack. Yes, apparently you can get a twack of ducks.

    I can't vouch for any of these terms, but I can vouch for badling, because that's straight out of the OED!

    I also found an interesting blog post on the origin of the terms of venery. I've linked it in the post, but you can follow it here too: http://mechanicalbrain.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/terms-of-venery/