12 Days of Delight – win an Aurora of Polar Bears

Today, we’re celebrating A Compendium of Collective Nouns with some of our favourites and the chance to win a beautiful print of an Aurora of Polar Bears…

 Compendium of Collective Nouns

A Loquacity of barbers
As befitting the storied tradition of a gregarious barber, this entry begs the following anecdote, apocryphally attributed to British politician Enoch Powell. It seems that there was a barber near Parliament who was infamous for talking the ear off politicians with his views on the state of the world as he tended to their hair. One day, when the barber asked Powell how he’d like his hair cut, Powell responded, “In silence.”

A Bury of Coneys
Despite J. R. R. Tolkien’s well-known scene in The Lord of the Rings in which Sam the Hobbit prepares a “brace of coneys,” one of the two “proper” terms for a multitude of game rabbits is bury, or sometimes berry, synonymous with our modern burrow. We’d like to think that the linguist Tolkien knew the proper term, but that Sam, being an uneducated gardener, did not, and used “brace” to signify a pair (a gentleman would know that brace only signifies a pair of certain animals). Turbervile notes that two coneys are called a “couple,” and three are “a couple and a half.” He also lists a “fair game of coneys” as the alternate to bury.

A Trip of goats
Trip, sometimes mistranscribed as tribe, refers to tame goats. In the Middle Ages, goat nomenclature was a little complex: Geet was plural for goat (similar to our modern tooth and teeth); geats were female goats; and, while a trip referred to tame goats, wild goats ran in herds. Trip may derive from an Icelandic word, thyrpa, for “flock.”

A Shiver of sharks
In his novel The Infernals, John Connolly writes that a shiver of sharks is so lovely because it is “so apt.” This modern company name appears in a few children’s counting and alphabet games and books, but it isn’t used in the lexicon of marine biology.

A Leaping of lords
Alliteration aside, it’s easy to wonder why lords would be a-leaping in the yuletide carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” from which this modern collective term arises. A Canadian hymnologist wrote an article in 1979 that claimed the twelve items in the carol were meant to invoke lessons of the catechism (with the ten lords standing in for the Ten Commandments), but no historical basis for this has ever been documented.




Win an Aurora of Polar Bears

We’ve been given a beautiful original print by WOOP Studios from their book A Compendium of Collective Nouns. Printed with pigment inks on A3 Hahnemule archive fine art, 308gsm pure cotton, acid free paper – this is a wonderful wordy treat for the lucky winner. Just answer the question below to win.



You can Reserve & Collect A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras from your local Waterstones bookshop (http://bit.ly/IV2RGg), buy it online at Waterstones.com (http://bit.ly/IV2NpV) or download it in ePub format (http://bit.ly/IV2StP)


Competition terms and conditions

1. No purchase necessary. Please enter your name and email address. Only one entry per person allowed. Proof of entering is not proof of receipt of entry.

2. To be eligible, entries must be received on or before the closing date of 5/01/14 at 11:59 PM. All entries shall become the property of Waterstones.com, and their directors, officers, representatives, advertising and promotional agencies are not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.

3. Entrants must be over 16 years old and residents of the UK or Ireland.

4. There will be 1 winner of an unframed A3 print of An Aurora of Polar Bears by WOOP Studios.

5. The promoter reserves the right to amend the specification of the prize or offer an alternative prize of equal or greater value.

6. Subject to availability.

7. No cash alternative will be offered. Travel and other expenses are not included. The prize is non-transferable.

8. A random draw will take place on the morning of 8/01/14 to select the winners. The prize winner will be notified by email, and will need to respond by midnight 12/01/14 as to whether they are willing to accept the prize. If a selected entrant does not meet all of the contract conditions, another entrant will be selected from the remaining eligible entries.

9. This competition is not open to employees of Waterstones, the publisher or their immediate families.

10. By entering the contest, entrants, consent to the use of their names, city of residence, photograph and/or image for publicity purposes in all media carried out by Waterstones, without payment or compensation.

11. The decisions of the contest judges are final. The prize must be accepted as awarded.

12. The right is reserved to terminate or withdraw this contest at any time.

13. a) All entries become the property of Waterstones, who assume no responsibility for lost, stolen, delayed, damaged or misdirected entries or for any failure of the website during the promotional period, for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received by Waterstones on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the internet or any website, or any combination thereof including any injury or damage to an entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from playing or downloading any material in the promotion. Waterstones reserve the right, in its sole discretion to cancel or suspend the email portion of this contest should a virus or bug or other cause beyond the reasonable control of Waterstones corrupt the security or proper administration of the contest. Any attempt to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of this promotion is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, Waterstones reserve the right to seek remedies and damages to the fullest extent permitted by law, including criminal prosecution. Entries are subject to verification and will be declared invalid if they are illegible, mechanically MV reproduced, mutilated, forged, falsified, altered or tampered with in any way. Entrants agree to abide by the contest rules and the decisions of the independent judging panel, which are final.

13. b) Entries must be submitted by the named entrant and will be invalid if found to come from a third party. Multiple entries from a single source (eg ‘competition entry’ website/company) will be disqualified. Only one entry will be accepted per email address used.

14. For name/county of prize winner, please send a stamped addressed envelope marked 12 Days: An Aurora of Polar Bears to Waterstones Blog, Waterstones Booksellers, 203-106 Piccadilly, W1J 9HD after 12/01/14. No entries should be sent to this address.

15. Entry to the competition is conditional on acceptance of these terms and conditions. By entering your comment, you are deemed to have read and accepted these terms.

16. The email address you provide to enter the competition will be used by us to contact you if necessary, and will not be shared with other companies. Waterstones will only use your email address in compliance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with our privacy policy.

17. Waterstones and the publisher have organised this prize draw in good faith and do not accept liability relating to the prize.


What do you think?