Sunday, 26 May 2013

Bevy

Bevy, Group of women, Girls, Ladies, Party, Drinking, Club, Bar
Bride Beverly's bibacious bevy bibulously bibbling bevvies

BEVY

Noun. Late Middle English.
[Origin unknown.]

1. A company of ladies, roes, quails or larks. LME

2. A group or company of any kind. E17

Ooh I do love terms of venery! And as collective nouns go, bevy is a particularly wonderful one. Who would have thought that just one word could describe a group of roes, quails, larks or ladies? Such lexicological versatility is surely cause for celebration.

It's also of interest as it's still in common use across Britain. Well, OK, not so much for quails, but a bevy of beauties is a commonly used expression. While the dictionary definition carries the idea that there can be a bevy of anything so long as it has a common characteristic (and it is used in this way), the first definition that jumps into my mind with bevy is that of a group of women. It also carries the connotation of frivolity, perhaps because of its similarity to the word bevvy or bevy, from beverage and specifically meaning an alcoholic drink. Therefore, a bevy of girls out on a Hen Night sounds more natural to me than, say, a bevy of politicians.

9 comments:

  1. How lovely! I didn't know about the quails, roes (as in deer, I presume) and larks.

    Larks come in exaltations, too, of course, which is also lovely, especially when they're singing.

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    1. I will definitely be doing 'exaltation' when I get to E ... and yes ... I wondered the same about roes, but I don't think it could be anything else, could it?

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  2. If somebody wanted to punish me, there wouldn't be a better way than throwing me into a bevy of loud ladies.

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    1. The same with me and a bunch of lager louts, Evi. In fairness to the girls in the picture, they look positively classy in comparison with a lot of the Hen Night pictures I found : o /

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  3. I'm afraid I may be a bit prejudiced in the matter of venery. One of my (now largely discarded) hobbies is trivia games, and I found few subjects more annoying than this one, which required the memorization of large numbers of otherwise-useless collective nouns.

    For this irritation, I blame James Lipton. Long before hosting Inside the Actors Studio, he wrote a book named An Exaltation of Larks in which he itemized these so-called terms of venery, many of which were outright inventions of his own.

    I realize that a lot of people find these things cute, but they seem markedly less so when you've just lost a game because you couldn't remember whether pheasants congregate in parliaments or bouquets.

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    1. I should warn you, Nick, that I will be covering virtually every term of venery I find with an absurd level of childish enthusiasm.

      Did you see my post on the word badling, which is a small group of ducks? Awww ... a badling ... come on!

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    2. Hmm, perhaps you are my bête noire after all. You and that Lipton guy both.

      What's the word for a group of more than one bête noire?

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    3. It can only be a bevy of bête noire, surely?

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