I was watching the famous TV show Friends and there was a scene when Phoebe sings a song which goes something like .."Monica, Monica have a happy Hanukkah. Saw Santa Claus, he said hello to Ross. And please tell Joey, Christmas will be snowy. And Rachel and Chandler..(and then she mumbles something) "

I was wondering if there is a term or phrase for this?

Also if you were to better phrase my question. How would you do it?

  • Haha, good question! I have never heard a word for that myself, although I'm sure a term exists. If you can't find find an answer on this site, you might want to try ELU, they're very good at finding obscure words.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 16:27
  • If I remember correctly (but I often find my memory untrustworthy), Phoebe even called this thing improvise (or improvisation if you need a noun) herself. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 17:16
  • @DamkerngT. Well improvise is not exactly what I am looking for. I am looking for a word or phrase that defines just this. But thanks. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 17:33
  • In French, this is called yoghurt singing ("chanter en yaourt"). WordReference simply translates it to pretending. I'm trying to see if I can find a better one but so far the best I can find is "to yoghurt".
    – Linkyu
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


While I'm not certain, the phrase faking it might be used. This is more often used with regards to music, though.

Along with the classic "Star Trek" blooper:

Kirk: What I want to know is, who put the Tribbles in the quadrotriticale?

Spock: I'm not certain sir, but if you'll hum a few bars I'll try to fake it.

Explanatory note for non-English speakers. In 1961, a wildly popular pop song "Who put the Bomp?" was released. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXmsLe8t_gg Kirk's question inadvertently brings this to mind. Leonard Nimoy (Spock) was having fun, and William Shatner (Captain Kirk) was reduced to helpless laughter, and the scene had to be redone.


When intentionally inserting nonsense vocalizations, it's called Scat Singing.

Occasionally, the reverse is done; that is, to sing valid words but in a way to make them sound like nonsense. For example, Mairzy Doats is actually "Mares eat oats."

That "encryption" technique is similar to Cockney rhyming slang.

  • 2
    i think neither answers the question. OP is describing a situation where the person singing along knows most, or some of the words, but during parts where they're not totally sure of the lyrics, they sing something that kind of sounds like the lyrics, but is actually nonsense. i wouldn't call that scat singing.
    – user428517
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 21:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .