minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Mar 19 08:11:03 EST 2005

Ferret-fanciers on the list may be amused (if they don't already know it)
that in Middle English the collective term for ferrets seems to have been
"a busyness".

The entry in the Middle English Dictionary is

bisinesse n.
5. A flock (of ferrets), a swarm (of flies).
 a1450 _Terms Assoc.(1) 603: A besynes of ferrets.

If I come across a collective term for stoats I'll let DWJ know!  I'm only
up to "b" so far in the search for every plant mentioned by name in ME

I have to admit that I hadn't thought of ferrets as coming by the flock
either.  Is that really the modern collective term for them?  I'd've
thought it ought to be something a bit less pacific.


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