In the English Language, we have several different words to describe a group of something. For example, a group of crows is called a murder, a carven for camels, a gaggle of geese, and a parliament of owls.
But one animal we’ll be focusing on today is the source of our bacon. Pigs.
For the meat lovers out there, pigs are a delicious treat. For the vegetarians and vegans reading this, pigs are cute, friendly, and clever. But regardless as to where to you stand on eating them, I get a feeling that most of you reading this won’t know what a group of pigs is called.
There are several answers including drift, drove, litter, sounder, or passel.
The short answer: A group of pigs can have several different names. Little ones are called a drift, a drove, or a litter. And older ones are referred to as a team, or a passel. And wild ones are often called a sounder.
Why do we name groups of animals?
This question does raise another question. Why?
Why do we name groups of animals? Why don’t we just day a group of crows, camels, geese, owls, or pigs?
The process of naming groups of animals is called ‘Terms of Venery’. It actually dates all the way back to the middle ages.
The purpose of using this process was for hunters to show off their knowledge about hunting.
Part of the English language comes from men wanting show off.
Where these names come from varies from animal to animal. Crows are associated with murder, and owls look wise, like a parliament.
But onto the pigs.
Let’s start with everyone’s favourite sort of pigs. The babies. The piglets.
These pocket sized cuties are far too sweet to end up on a dinner plate.
A group of of piglets have 3 different names that they can be referred as. A drift, a drove, or a litter.
A litter is a common name for a group of baby animals, it’s often used to refer to cats or dogs.
Drove is a common term in farming. It means a herd who’s being driven in one single body.
Drift in farming is a noun which means to heard cattle to a particular place. The purpose of drifting is to decide who owns the cattle or the impose a fine.
And now, onto the grown ups. The one’s who get brought home as bacon.
Unfortunately, the official term for a group of grown up pigs is called a team. Team is a good general term for a group whenever there isn’t another name available.
There is however another name, which is a bit more interesting. Passel.
Passel is defined as ‘a large number or amount’. Although what exactly constitutes a ‘large number’ isn’t defined, particularly not for pigs.
Why are babies named differently from grown ups?
This does raise yet another why. Why do we name baby pigs differently from older pigs?
And in all honesty, there isn’t actually a good reason why. It just is.
That’s the really weird thing about the English Language. There isn’t really a why with a lot of things. Language isn’t logical.
But because that’s what the farmers have decided, and those are the terms they’ve been using, those have become the official terms for a group of pigs.
But there’s a bit of a twist now.
The name’s we have spoken about only apply to domesticated pigs. Most of you will know that not all pigs live on a farm. There are some who live in forest.
A group of wild pigs is known as a sounder.
The purpose of having a different name for a group of wild and domesticated pigs would be for the hunters. Finding a sounder of pigs would mean hunt away, whereas finding a passel of pigs would mean to help out on the farm.
Rarely will wild pigs be made into bacon.
As well a group names, there are also nicknames for pigs.
The main two are swine and hogs. Although they may seem like synonyms, there is actually a difference between a swine and a hog.
Any pig can be a swine. But in order to qualify as a hog, the pig needs to weigh at least 120lbs.
There is another name, boar. Usually when we think of boar, we would think of wild pigs. However, a castrated domestic pig can also be called a boar.
But today, most people use the terms pigs, hogs, and swine interchangeably, and use boar to refer to wild pigs.
Pig isn’t just a word used to refer to the cute animal. Sometimes when a man is being sexist, perverted, or overly sexual, you might refer to him as a pig.
If you’re on the left on the political aisle, you might have referred to certain capitalists as pigs.
These nicknames likely come from a few unfair stereotypes of pigs. The idea that pigs are lazy, dirty, greedy, and stupid.
It’s up for debate as to whether these stereotypes are true. But because they’re commonly held, the nicknames for people have stuck.
A group of sexist men
This yet again raises another question. Can you use the collective nouns for pigs when you’re talking about sexists?
Could you refer to a collection of sexist men as a sounder, a passel, or a team?
In short, you could. There’s no law against it. However, will people know what you’re talking about?
But as mentioned earlier, the rules of the English language aren’t determined by logic or reason, they are determined by common usage. So if people begin referring to groups of sexist men as passels or teams, then that will become the official terminology. But because we don’t, there is currently no collective noun for a group of sexist men.
Groups of animals have become a staple of the English Language. Even though they originate from hunters wanted to show off their knowledge, they are still used today.
A group of pigs can have several different names. Little ones are called a drift, a drove, or a litter. And older ones are referred to as a team, or a passel. And wild ones are often called a sounder.
Although pig is an insult which means sexist man, we have decided that the collective nouns which refer to the animals do not refer to men who meet this description.