Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 20 01:09:56 EST 2005

--- minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:
> 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.
> [snip]
> 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
> literature...
> 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.
modern collectives for ferrets are "business" as has
been mentioned, also cast and fesnying (but not, I
think, a flock). For stoats it is pack or trip, while
for weasels it is a sneak, a gang or a pack (I'm sure
Mr Toad would have agreed with those).


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