An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  337 ratings  ·  61 reviews
An "exaltation of larks"? Yes! And a "leap of leopards," a "parliament of owls," an "ostentation of peacocks," a "smack of jellyfish," and a "murder of crows"! For those who have ever wondered if the familiar "pride of lions" and "gaggle of geese" were only the tip of a linguistic iceberg, James Lipton has provided the definitive answer: here are hundreds of equally pithy,...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1968)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 748)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Anita
An exquisite reference book to all things venereal--the adjectival form of "terms of venery" or hunting terms of course. You know pride of lions and gaggle of geese, but how about parliament of owls. The book details the 15th century terms for animals, people and things to bring to light stuff you knew but never thought of--a clutch of eggs, a comedy of errors. In addition, the real fun comes from Lipton's new additions: a charge of shoppers, a deal of agents, a book of Mormons (I liked it too,...more
Gaile Wakeman
This book is really fun. I have searching for this in used book stores and I finally found an old hardcover copy. I heard James on NPR once and he was talking about this book--I became curious about such and esoteric subject.
Carol
Initially, I misjudged James Lipton’s quirky and curious book, An Exaltation of Larks, missing the playful and fanciful element. When I read that a group of elk is called a gang, I felt only unalloyed disgust. Perhaps among flabby academicians, elk are referred to as gangs. But, I live among muscular mountain men who would laugh in derision at that term. Or fix you with a questioning stare.

This book didn’t grab me until I started from the beginning.The dedication: For my mother, Betty Lipton, w...more
Summer
This book is a quick, pleasant read with a bonus of lasting fun playing the Game of Venery. Mr. Lipton included "a browse of readers." I would like to propose "a volume of books." And now it's your turn...
Anandi
Received this from my High School English teacher Mr. Charles (Charlie) Roemer when I graduated.
Kristina
Love the show; hideous idea for a book. I mean, REALLY.
Jacob
As a lover of language especially English I bought this book out of curiosity. As it turns out James Lipton has preserved an important part of history. I had no idea how important terms for groups were throughout history. Most of the book is a, if i may, 'collection of images.' However, Mr. Lipton divides the book into sections and with each section he provides an insightful introduction or summary. These sections highlight the importance of just such a book and why he undertook the task to crea...more
Kate
A gaggle of geese.

A comedy of errors.

A rash of dermatologists?!

If you've ever wondered whether familiar terms like "a pride of lions" or "a string of ponies" were only the tip of a linguistic iceberg, An Exaltation of Larks provides the definitive answer. This classic collection of collective nouns includes more than 1,100 equally pithy, and often poetic, terms -- some resurrected from the Books of Venery that were the constant study of fifteenth-century gentlemen; some ("a blur of Impressionist...more
Giedra
Fun book about "terms of venery"; that is, words to describe groups of things. Although most of these terms that we're most familiar with are for animals--a pride of lions, a school of fish--there are many others. The first part of the book reviews terms that show up in some very old manuscripts--1486!!--and includes an excerpt from a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book in which one hunter berates another for not knowing all the correct terms. Apparently even into the 19th century there were a lot MORE...more
Rachel Rogers
Terms of venery - aka what do you call a group of something? Several owls = a parliament of owls; a school of fish; a murder of crows; etc. More than a hundred of these have been passed through history since the 16th century or earlier. The last several hundred Lipton and others have made up over the last 30 years. The first ones are better, more poetic and beautiful; the modern creations, while some of them are lyrical others feel forced. Still, it's a fascinating study of language.

My consisten...more
Michael
Sep 19, 2007 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: word nerds.
Although at first glance it appears to be no more than a novelty of a reference book, An Exaltation of Larks is a surprisingly enjoyable work one can read straight through. This is primarily owing to the affection the author has put into presenting each term of venery, reflecting years of research to dredge up the meanings behind many an obscure reference. What additionally makes the book a joy to read is the very style with which Lipton writes, reverent and stuffy in the very best learned Briti...more
Justwinter
aeolist: (EE-uh-list) a pompous, windy bore who pretends to have inspiration

blatteroon: a person who won't shut up; a constant talker

microlipet: (My-kroh-LIP-it) someone who gets all worked up about trivial things

wowser: a persnickety, puritanical, self-righteous snob

*

chavish:(CHAY-vish) the sound of many birds chirping or singing at once

plangent: (PLAN-jent) having a loud, deep, reverberating sound like bells clanging, thunder rumbling, or the waves breaking on the shore

susurrus: (suu_SUR-us) a...more
Paula
The introduction is interesting as it traces these terms of "venery" back to 1486 with the publication of the Book of Albans. It is these earlier terms, often hunting terms, that are the most interesting. Some are familiar; many are not. I especially like "a charm of finches," "a hover of trout," & "a pencil of lines." Later additions, mostly having to do with various groupings of people, are less compelling.
Bunny
Jun 23, 2009 Bunny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Bunny by: James Lipton
Shelves: read-in-09
Okay, this is just neat.

The terms in this book, the real ones, are amusing as hell. The ones that were made up and collected by James Lipton are so witty and hilarious. I can't even remember all of them. Of course, I remember "A Mount of Porn Stars". "A Rack of Sadomasochists." I would remember those, wouldn't I?

The only reason it doesn't get more stars is because the explanation for some of the terms is written in such a way as to need it's own explanation. I wish I'd had a dictionary on me whi...more
Cynthia
Got this on loan from a friend for a few days and it's hysterical so far. A sweeping (yet not dry) exploration of the history of "grouping terms," such as a murder of crows or a pod of whales and how awareness of them came to be considered a sign of learnedness. Some of the funniest offerings were cooked up by a group of scholars walking by some hookers on the street. One called them "a jam of tarts," while another offered "a flourish of strumpets," and yet another (and my personal favorite), "a...more
Tim
Its subtitle, the veneral game (tied to venery, the chase, hunting), is unfortunate, but these poetic words for gatherings of men and animals come from 15th century gentleman's manuals (this does not mean they were much in circulation, but its fun to think they were). This is a fun and mildly funny book, with some nice illustrations, vaguely related to the topics at hand. My favorite terms include a murder of crows, a crash of rhinoceroses, and a skulk of thieves. He also gives advice on making...more
David
This book is so much fun, one is almost tempted to forgive James Lipton for..

Well, there's so much to forgive James Lipton for. But in my fantasy, when he is wheeled before the tribunal for the sundry crimes against humanity perpetrated during "Inside the Actors Studio" (with Jennifer Lopez, REALLY, James?), instead of the straight thumbs down vote that would otherwise certainly be his fate, there will be - miraculously - a MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE. Namely, the existence of this fine book.

Oh, don...more
Jean
If you love words, language & poetry, I highly recommend this book. Lipton provides the history behind collective nouns dating back to the 1500's and leads you through many stories and origins of the more peculiar ones. Towards the end he describes the "art" of coming up with your own terms of venery and how the game is played. A wonderful way to add a richness to language that is disappearing as we produce an "abbreviation of texters" and a "chirp of tweeters". I had so much fun reading thi...more
Dale
A quick and incredibly fun read. Lipton loves to play with language and invites you to join. The book is an exploration of what he dubs the Venereal Game; it collects what may be called "nous of multitude," "company terms," "nouns of assemblage," or "group terms" such as gaggle of geese and school of fish. Lipton takes us a lot farther and opens a field of study unknown. If it ever amused you to find out a group of crows was called a murder, than this book is for you.
Hope
I love this book -- got it originally when it came out in a much slimmer edition in the 60's and have since bought the updated edition plus copies for many friends... I don't have a television, so I've never seen Actor's Studio and had no idea that the author was a celebrity of sorts (although I'm not sure what that has to do with this book...) At any rate, I find the book most delightful, witty, charming. It has given me a great deal of pleasure over the years.
Stacey
a fun read. I love collective nouns.
Daryl
Who can resist the poetry of "a murder of crows", "a parliament of owls", "a knot of toads", "a crash of rhinoceroses", and, of course, "an exaltation of larks"? So much of this language has been lost to time and laziness, it is a real shame. This is a wonderful history of words and language and I have just started reading, but it is beautiful and humorous and witty and clever and wonderful!
michael spencer
I know I am going to catch flack for this, but...

Horrible, horrible, horrible! I already know how to describe things; I do not care to hear more about Mr. Lipton than I already have had to bear on The Actor's Studio; I am certainly glad I did not have to spend money on it, and frankly I think it's been stealing space from my beloved classics on my main shelves for far too long.

Bleh! :)
Roxann Souci
A must have for every English language lover. A whimsical look at the the many options to describe multiples of animals and people. A Murder of Crows. A litigation of attorneys. A chorus of complaints. A bevy of beauties. An indifference of waiters.
These are just a few of the "pithy, and often poetic, terms..."
Richard Curry
Enjoyable, illustrated catalog of technical terms for GROUPS of creatures and things. You will never know how many different, colorful and sometimes funny descriptions of such groups have been invented until you read this book. It is easy to read. Thick but actually very short. I got it as a gift. Amusing!
Lindig
What wonderful fun! I loved this book, not least for its section on historical/current terms of "venery" (that is, terms for groups) such as a pod of whales or a murder of crows, but also for its section on obsolete terms and, best of all, its section on terms we should have (such as a tart of strumpets).
Mrs.
A delightful entertaining book that I discovered decades ago, by the host of Bravo's "The Actors Studio," James Lipton. Did you know that a group of larks is an "exaltation," and a group of allergists is a "hive?" This is fun and beautiful book that I pull out from time to time and have a chuckle.
Paul
A must for any lover of language! Beyond the obvious fun of determining what a group of anything is rightly called, this book includes a fascinating explanation of the research that went into finding the "accepted" lists. Also, there is a cool game for language geeks to play!
lindsie
Author who's obsequious on television, yes. Over-designed, yes. Guilty pleasure, for sure. Still, who can pass up "an unkindness of ravens", or a "shrivel of critics"? Venery is inherently outdated, stuffy, pretentious, precious, snarky, and silly. What's not to like?
Arielle
All you ever needed to know about "nouns of venery". Find out how the following terms originated:

a thrill of brides
a school of fish
a party of jays
a consumption of yuppies

A great bathroom book! Wonderful illustrations too.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
  • They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases
  • Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language
  • Superior Person's Book of Words
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
  • The Disheveled Dictionary: A Curious Caper Through Our Sumptuous Lexicon
  • The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words
  • The Order of Things: How Everything in the World Is Organized Into Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders
  • The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World
  • Dictionary of Word Origins: Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words
  • Verbatim: From the bawdy to the sublime, the best writing on language for word lovers, grammar mavens, and armchair linguists
  • The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten
  • The F-Word
  • A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
  • Latin for All Occasions
  • Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling
  • The Kings and Queens of England and Scotland
  • Lapsing Into a Comma: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print--and How to Avoid Them
284432
James Lipton is an American writer, poet, and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City. He is the executive producer, writer and host of the Bravo cable television series, Inside the Actors Studio, which debuted in 1994. He is also a pilot and a member of AOPA.
More about James Lipton...
Inside Inside Mirrors An Exaltation of Home and Family An Exaltation of Romance and Revelry An Exaltation of Business and Finance

Share This Book