A Group of Ducks is Called a Herd...Right? 15+ Words For A Group of Ducks

 |  7 min read

I’ll confess to calling my motley assortment of backyard ducks a “herd.” I know it’s wrong, but I’ve done it anyway.

Of course, a group of ducks is generally called a “flock.” But that’s not the only collective noun you can use.

Collective nouns for a group of like animals, known as “terms of venery,” are a funny bunch. Many were invented by medieval hunters, used for a short period because they were “fashionable,” and obsolete by the 16th century. A few, such as “a pride of lions,” have become established and are used in everyday speech, but most, such as “a shiver of sharks,” “a ballet of swans,” and “a dopping of shelduck,” have been kept alive only as curiosities, as tasty morsels in our lexicon.

So if you’re a logophile, curious, or a lover of ducks, check out this array of amusing terms for a group of ducks.

So what is a group of ducks called? Here’s the whole caboodle of collective nouns.

  1. A flock.
  2. A paddling.
  3. A badelynge, badelyng, or badling.
  4. A raft.
  5. A safe.
  6. A bunch.
  7. A flush.
  8. A team.
  9. A brace.
  10. A sord, sorde, or sore.
  11. A brood.
  12. A clutch.
  13. A bevy.
  14. A daggle.
  15. A skein.
  16. A plump.
  17. A twack.
  18. A dopping.

Need more details?

After all, a paddling of ducks certainly isn’t your backyard flock sitting in their coop waiting for you to feed them, and a brood of ducks isn’t those migrating Mallards flying overhead.

Flock is the most common term, especially when referring to a group of ducks in flight. However, it can refer to any assortment of two or more ducks, or a mixed-species group of birds, or any group of birds.

A paddling is a group of ducks on water. There’s a children’s book called “A Paddling of Ducks: Animal Groups from A to Z.”

two mallard ducks swimming on lake

Please excuse this paddling of Mallards paddling across the screen.

Badelynge,” “badelyng,” and “badling” are all pronounced like “badling” and are all malapropisms of “paddling.” They are archaic terms that tend to refer to smaller groups of ducks either on land or in water. These words were in use at least as early as 1801 and are mentioned in various waterfowl hunting manuals.

The word “raft” can also be used as a collective noun, again referring to swimming ducks. It can also refer to swimming animals of any species. This term is more frequently used in our modern day than many others in this list.

A “safe” of ducks is a group of ducks on land.

safe of ducks

A safe of rare Shetland ducks.

A “bunch” of ducks usually means a group of ducks on water, but it can be used in any context.

Hunters called a group of ducks that had been flushed into the air “a flush of ducks.” Thus, this word is usually in reference to a group of ducks that have just taken flight.

flush of wild ducks flying

A flush of wild ducks lifting into the air.

Team” is another term that originated in duck hunting. Originally, it mostly referred to ducks flying overhead or sometimes swimming ducks. Now it is an irrelevant and lackluster term worthy of being buried and forgotten, but it is still occasionally used in contexts such as “before buying your first team of ducks…” and, as in this humorous news article, “University Student Loses His Lunch to a Sly Team of Ducks.”

In the world of duck hunting, a brace of ducks refers to a pair of dead ducks tied together. (Thus, “three brace” would mean six ducks.) However, it can also be used for either a group of ducks on land or a group of ducks in water, of any number.

The word “sord,” also sometimes written “sorde” or “sore,” is specific to Mallards. It comes from the Middle English word “sorde,” which means “to rise up in flight.” The word is now obsolete, but may have been more commonly used to refer to ducks on the ground.

sord of mallard ducks on ice

This sord of Mallards will slip on the ice if they are not careful!

Brood” is a word that can be used to describe a group of ducklings, usually a family of ducklings born at the same time.

Clutch” also refers to a group of baby ducks. It can also mean “a group or nest of eggs.”

clutch of ducklings

A Muscovy duck with her adorable clutch of ducklings.

Bevy is a more generic word, referring to birds in general, but it is applicable to a group of ducks as well.

Daggle is a rare collective noun for a group of ducks. I have failed to find valid documentation of its use or existence. It’s mentioned in this blog post:

“You may also hear tell of a flush, a badling, or a twack of ducks. (Also a knob, a daggle, or a smeath. I only wish I could make this stuff up),” writes Will Habington, the author.

You probably could. Perhaps someone thought, as a group of geese is called a gaggle, perhaps a group of ducks could be called a daggle. Voila—new word. This is an unfounded theory; let me know if you know of this word’s true history.

Skein, while still a rare word, has enjoyed more use over the years. It refers to ducks (or geese) in flight, particularly when flying in a V-shaped formation. The word may have come from an imagined similarity to a skein of yarn.

The word “plump” can refer to a group of any type of waterfowl, whether entirely geese, entirely ducks, or a mix. “Plump” may also refer to ducks that are being prepared for cooking.

plump of ducks and geese swimming in a pond

A plump of swimming waterfowl, albeit rather segregated.

Twack is a word that may have faded into obscurity. Documentation of its use is few and far between. I have not been able to find any reliable information on its origin. Purely theoretical: perhaps it’s a derivative of “quack.”

It does appear in this article, however: Are rats to blame for ducks disappearing from Marlborough?

And here: Massacre mystery after dead ducks found in village road

twack of muscovy ducks

A random twack of ducks doing absolutely nothing.

Dopping appears to be an even rarer word. It’s a collective term for a group of shelduck, apparently. It comes from the Middle English word “dop,” which means to “to dive.” Some sources indicate it may refer to a group of ducks when they are diving, regardless of species. A blogger named Chris Arthur thinks it is a useless word which should be culled. The shelducks, lacking any other word of their own, might beg to differ.

There exist isolated mentions of “springs of teal” and “coils of wigeon,” as well.

We plunge deeper. Scattered and sketchy Internet sources claim there is such a thing as a waddling of ducks, or perhaps a waddle of ducks. It sounds reasonable, naturally, but I can find no evidence of this being more than someone’s invention.

There’s also “battling of ducks.” Perhaps another malapropism of “badelynge”? And “doppling.” And “lute.” Lovely, but useless, redundant, and (seemingly) undocumented. Don’t trust the Internet.

Further sketchy Internet “sources” claim a group of ducks can be called a bed, company, fleet, flight, armada, brade, gang, knob, leash, pack, party, pryde, puddle, puddling, smeath, sort, string, suce, sute, trip, wabbling, or wedge. Says who?

Readers, if you have any information on whether any of these are legitimate words with any history of being used, let me know in the comments below! As for me, I’m off to feed my twack.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Please do not change this field

Back to Blog