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Isn’t it strange that we have no collective noun for cars? Especially given that traffic has become the defining motif of modern society. After all, many people spend more time in traffic than they do eating meals with their families!

Cars in Cairo are stuck in traffic jams like this 24/7,
according to photographer walid.hassanein.

 Cyclists are often able to zip past traffic jams, but we are nonetheless heavily impacted by hordes of cars. For me, the vast number of cars on the roads is the single greatest thing that detracts from my cycling experiences – I would prefer snow, steep uphills, extreme heat or monsoon-like rainfall over heavy car traffic, any day.

Cycling past dense gridlocked traffic the other day, I tried to think of a collective noun for cars. We have “peloton” for bikes – what would be an appropriate collective noun for cars at rush hour?

I thought perhaps “traffic” might be the appropriate collective noun. But in his book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, Tom Vanderbilt explains that the word “traffic” originally referred to trade and the movement of goods, and was a positive word. Then it came to also refer to the people who were moving goods. And as “traffic” meant people moving things to trade, it all came to mean people moving vehicles in pursuit of commerce. Which is pretty much what it means today, since the worst traffic jams occur as millions of people try to get to work. In any event, “traffic” means cars and people, so it cannot be the right collective noun for cars.

Los Angeles’s traffic now does the opposite of moving people and goods – it traps them in almost perpetual gridlock (Photo by Daniel)

As “traffic” isn’t the right collective noun for cars, I tried to come up with a few possibilities:

  • A crush of cars
  • A crash of cars
  • A collision of cars
  • A squash of cars
  • A confliction of cars
  • A confrontation of cars
  • A concatenation of cars
  • A cluster of cars
  • A cluster f&%$ of cars
  • A huddle of cars
  • A mob of cars
  • An idle of cars
  • A horde of cars

None of these are perfect. Can YOU think of a perfect word to describe large quantities of cars?

m4s0n501

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22 thoughts on “Can You Think of a Collective Noun for Cars?

    1. Very apt … except that “jam” has a couple of positive connotations, such as that stuff you put on toast, and also making music (which is kind of the opposite of what cars do)

  1. A cartastrophe of cars.
    A conniption of cars.
    A cancerous tumor of cars.
    A carpocalypse of cars.
    A carnage of cars.
    …hmm, wow, this is so easy, I’m only on the third letter of the alphabet and there so many more possibilities…

    1. Like those ones! Made me think of
      A carcinogenic of cars …

      Especially like carpocalypose of cars, having just watched “The Day After Tomorrow” again.

  2. Pingback: Can You Think of a Collective Noun for Cars? | Society & Culture News
  3. Pingback: Can You Think of a Collective Noun for Cars? | Cycling News and Events
  4. I can see the traffic report now:

    Scene: Fisheye camera lens on traffic reporter in TV helicopter over city traffic.

    Reporter: “This is Deanna Smileyreporter in the Clusterfuckchopper 9 reporting for Kersmash Collision & Autobody. A squash of cars is inching towards the city from the suburbs as the morning carpocalypse builds to a cartostraphic confrontation. A large carcinogenic of cars is blocking Highway 1 and a gas tanker truck has collided with a school bus at Knight Street and 33rd – Bob, can we get a close-up of the burning children for our viewers. There is also a downed cyclist blocking traffic at Broadway and 5th. Hopefully cleanup crews will arrive quickly to remove the cyclist so people can get to work on time”.

    Ok, that first part I made up but the last two sentences I actually heard on a television traffic report in Vancouver. I’m not sure why they show traffic reports on TV. If people are watching those types of reports while they are driving, us cyclists are in big trouble and we need a good collective noun for cars.

  5. I like -A cluster f&%$ of cars-.
    A smog of vehicles.

    I usually say I would take snow, rain, hills etc. over traffic. However traffic that is at a stand still is easy to by pass.
    We haven’t had too much snow here this year, but when we have received snow it has been near impossible to ride…Sad thing is we’re expected to be getting up to 30cm tomorrow. City couldn’t clear 4cm, not sure how they handle 30.
    If a city actually clears the snow properly from the roads AND bike lanes, riding in the snow is one of my favourite things to do.

    Just as I was about to hit submit, our pro-car morning radio guy was talking about a study in the States on how much money people waste sitting in traffic…Keep in mind, GTA highway traffic costs ALL of Canada $5billion each year.
    When thinking of a noun for traffic/cars, we should somehow include the wasted money and pollution they spew out.

    1. to include the notion of spewing … perhaps a Vomit of cars? Or a Purge of cars, which would capture the notion of destruction as well as spewing?
      Good luck with that snow!

  6. A ‘parking lot’, as that’s what it looks like ot me. As for traffic, us cyclists are part of the traffic.

    1. Good point D, forgot about that – traffic cannot possibly be a collective noun for cars because it leaves out cyclists (and pedestrians, for that matter). Reminds me of the Critical Mass slogan – “we’re not holding up traffic, we ARE traffic”.

  7. Well semis form a convoy. Since peleton is more of a racing term, maybe there’s a term from auto racing. I want to say “pack”, but that’s bike racing too. A pack of cars – sounds menacing – like wolves.

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