November 7, 2011

Zombie Herd or Zombie Horde?

A group of crows is called a murder. A group of caterpillars is called and army. A group of coyotes is called a band. But what should we call a group of zombies?

A recent episode of The Walking Dead on AMC has re-opened this debate after one of the characters referred to a group of traveling zombies as a "herd." A herd of zombies. I, however, have always preferred the term "horde" to describe a group of zombies on the move in search of food. So which is the better term?

This is a HERD
I believe that "herd" is an inaccurate term to describe the throng of zombies about to bust down your doors and drag you screaming into the night. On a purely emotional level, "herd" sounds passive and non-threatening. By definition, a herd is a "large group of animals that live together or are kept together as livestock." A zombie herd seems to suggest a large group of zombies standing around waiting to be slaughtered rather than a roaming band of monsters that is going to eat you alive. If anything, from a zombie's perspective it is humans who are the herds.

This is a HORDE
So, "herd," as a term, sucks. Zombies are best described as a horde. While the term "horde" means simply "a large group of people" or "an army or tribe of nomadic warriors," the word is connotative of swarms of bodies conquering and pillaging. Even the pronunciation of the term is more fitting for a group of zombies. The combination of the "h" consonant and the "o" syllable requires you to expel the sound from your throat, as if coughing or spitting something up. "Horde" is akin to the sound one would make clearing the throat of mucus.

For my money, zombies are best described as a horde, not a herd. But what do you think? Leave a comment below explaining your preferred terminology.