1870–75; flock + -ing1

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1 [flok]
a number of animals of one kind, especially sheep, goats, or birds, that keep or feed together or are herded together.
a large number of people; crowd.
a large group of things: a flock of letters to answer.
the Christian church in relation to Christ.
a single congregation in relation to its pastor.
Archaic. a band or company of persons.
verb (used without object)
to gather or go in a flock or crowd: They flocked around the football hero.

before 1000; (noun) Middle English; Old English floc; cognate with Old Norse flokkr; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun

flockless, adjective

1, 2. bevy, covey, flight, gaggle; brood, hatch, litter; shoal, school, swarm, group, company. Flock, drove, herd, pack refer to a company of animals, often under the care or guidance of someone. Flock is the popular term, which applies to groups of animals, especially of sheep or goats, and companies of birds: This lamb is the choicest of the flock. A flock of wild geese flew overhead. Drove is especially applied to a number of oxen, sheep, or swine when driven in a group: A drove of oxen was taken to market. A large drove of swine filled the roadway. Herd is usually applied to large animals such as cattle, originally meaning those under the charge of someone; but by extension, to other animals feeding or driven together: a buffalo herd; a herd of elephants. Pack applies to a number of animals kept together or keeping together for offense or defense: a pack of hounds kept for hunting; a pack of wolves. As applied to people, drove, herd and pack carry a contemptuous implication.

See collective noun.


2 [flok]
a lock or tuft of wool, hair, cotton, etc.
(sometimes used with a plural verb) wool refuse, shearings of cloth, old cloth torn to pieces, or the like, for upholstering furniture, stuffing mattresses, etc.
Also called flocking. (sometimes used with a plural verb) finely powdered wool, cloth, etc., used for producing a velvetlike pattern on wallpaper or cloth or for coating metal.
floc ( def 1 ).
verb (used with object)
to stuff with flock, as a mattress.
to decorate or coat with flock, as wallpaper, cloth, or metal.

1250–1300; Middle English flok < Old French floc < Latin floccus floccus. Compare Old High German floccho

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
flock1 (flɒk)
1.  a group of animals of one kind, esp sheep or birds
2.  a large number of people; crowd
3.  a body of Christians regarded as the pastoral charge of a priest, a bishop, the pope, etc
4.  rare a band of people; group
5.  to gather together or move in a flock
6.  to go in large numbers: people flocked to the church
[Old English flocc; related to Old Norse flokkr crowd, Middle Low German vlocke]

flock2 (flɒk)
1.  a tuft, as of wool, hair, cotton, etc
2.  a.  waste from fabrics such as cotton, wool, or other cloth used for stuffing mattresses, upholstered chairs, etc
 b.  (as modifier): flock mattress
3.  very small tufts of wool applied to fabrics, wallpaper, etc, to give a raised pattern
4.  another word for floccule
5.  (tr) to fill, cover, or ornament with flock
[C13: from Old French floc, from Latin floccus; probably related to Old High German floccho down, Norwegian flugsa snowflake]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. flocc "a group of persons," related to O.N. flokkr "crowd, troop, band," M.L.G. vlocke "crowd, flock;" not found in other Gmc. languages, perhaps related to folc "people," but the metathesis would have been unusual for O.E. Extended c.1200 to "a number of animals of one kind moving or feeding together;"
of domestic animals c.1300. Transferred to bodies of Christians, in relation to Christ or their local pastor, from mid-14c. The verb meaning "to gather, congregate" is from c.1300. Related: Flocked; flocking.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Peasants began flocking to cities a thousand years ago.
The animal world has its share of celebrated navigators, from flocking geese to
  spawning salmon.
People are now flocking to the nature preserve hoping to see the rare deer and
  take its picture.
Yet voters are not flocking to mainstream centre-left parties.
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