What do you call two crows sitting on a telephone wire? Attempted murder! Get it?
No? Welp, that’s a shame. At the end of the day, there’s nothing worse than having to explain a joke.
Anyway, sit tight – we’re going to explain this joke.
Two Crows Being an Attempted Murder – Meaning of the Joke
“A murder of crows” is the collective noun for a group of crows. The joke makes use of this play on words, particularly the double meaning of “attempted murder”. It implies that the two crows are attempting to form a group. Therefore, two crows are an attempted murder.
Ever heard of a “collective noun”? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “a noun that describes a group of things or people as a unit”. Some common examples are:
- A flock of birds
- A school of fish
- A pack of wolves
Well, especially in literature, crows have been granted a rather interesting collective noun. A group of crows is called “a murder of crows”. Chilling!
The joke, therefore, creates humor by making use of this double meaning of “attempted murder” as a pun. Of course, attempted murder is a crime. However, the joke also relies on the fact that two crows sitting together are attempting to form a group or a “murder” but haven’t quite succeeded.
With this double meaning of “attempted murder” in mind, the joke creates a humorous non sequitur by providing an absurd explanation for the presence of two crows.
Two Crows Being an Attempted Murder – Origin
It’s not quite clear where this joke comes from or who said it first. However, it appears to be a popular meme on Facebook.
There is a viral image of two crows sitting beside each other with the phrase “attempted murder” in bold text beneath them. You can see it here.
The mysterious creator of this meme remains unknown. However, we might be able to explain where the concept of the joke originates from.
The collective noun “murder” for a group of crows seems to have developed as a literary and poetic device in 15th century England.
Crows, as scavengers, spend much of their time waiting for an opportunity to pick away at the carcasses of animals. Historically, they have often been spotted near desolate battlefields, gallows, and graveyards.
On account of these behaviors, the glossy black birds developed a rather morbid reputation, and they were often treated as a symbol of death in literature and poetry.
Crows have made their way into Norse, Celtic, Welsh, and even Indigenous American mythology. Most notably, these infamous creatures were used as literary devices in plays by Shakespeare, such as Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear.
So, when it comes to how the joke developed, it seems to us that someone saw two crows, saw the opportunity to make a joke, and took it.
Incorrect Ways to Use “Two Crows Being an Attempted Murder
Obviously, the joke will only work if there are two crows present. No more, no less. One crow is just a crow. Three could already be considered a “group”, so more than two crows is just a regular murder of crows, not an attempted murder.
Do not make a fool of yourself by pointing at three crows and yelling “attempted murder”! It won’t be funny, Kyle.
Do better, Kyle.
Also, it’s very important that the bird you’re looking at is, indeed, a crow, and not a raven or a magpie. Only a group of crows is called a “murder”. So, if you’re looking at two ravens, it’s just two ravens, Kyle.
Don’t try to make the joke using ravens, Kyle. It won’t be funny.
Do better, Kyle.
In What Situations Can You Use “Two Crows Being an Attempted Murder”
The perfect opportunity to make use of the “two crows being an attempted murder” joke is when you happen to see two crows out there in the wild. You can look at them, point, and say “look, an attempted murder!”
It will seem serendipitous, and you will appear quick of wit.
If there aren’t any crows about, you can simply tell the joke in full, as we did above. Or a variation thereof:
- What do you call two crows sitting on a wire? An attempted murder!
- What do you call two crows sitting on a branch? Attempted murder!
“Two crows being an attempted murder” is a joke that makes use of the double meaning of “attempted murder”. A “murder of crows” is the collective noun for a group of crows. The joke implies that two crows are attempting to form a group. It is, therefore, an “attempted murder”.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.