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I came across the word “songify” for the first time in the article of October 23 NY Times titled ‘Yes We Chant’ with the sub-head, “The Gregory Brothers songify the debate, with Gregorian chanting.”

The article is accompanied with a video, in which CBC’s Bob Schieffer as the moderator of this Monday’s Presidential debate, President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney all “songify” clips of their statements.

The text reads:

“Our only remaining option was to songify the whole thing ourselves, to imagine the parallel universe where Gregorian chanting monks shepherded the candidates through the debate as Bob Schieffer dropped verse after verse. We hope that whoever wins this blasted election will be kind enough to sing his acceptance speech.”

Although www.definition of net. defines “Songify” as “1. to make stuff into a song. 2. to make a song out of stuff that wasn't originally intended to be a song, none of credible English dictionaries including Oxford, Cambridge, and Merriam-Webster registers “songify.”

As there is no instance of this word in GoogleNgram viewer either, we cannot tell since when and how the word “Songify” came into currency.

Is “Songify” a well-received word in modern or American English? Or is it just a wild and ephemeral journalism neology? Is it possible to say, or coin “Musicify,” "Medlefy,” “Lyricify” and “Poemify” likewise?

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The word poemify has the problem that it's a synonym of the already-existing word versify. –  Peter Shor Mar 31 '13 at 1:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'd like to address the last part of your question:

Is “Songify” a well-received word in modern or American English? Is it possible to say, or coin “Musicify,” “Medlefy,” “Lyricify” and “Poemify” likewise?

The -ify suffix is well-established, and is used in relatively common words such as personify, deify, and exemplify. Macmillan defines it like this:

used with some adjectives and nouns to make verbs meaning “to become, or to make someone or something become, something”

Browsing through OneLook's reverse dictionary results for more examples, I found a heap of other lesser-heard words as well, such as preachify, compactify, historify, and even the technojargon webify. (Some of those are so rare that my spell-checker doesn't even like them.)

So, can you coin your own word, such as musicify or poetify? Evidently so, because the Times writer did just that, even though songify doesn't appear to have crept into any dictionaries yet. That said, I would recommend using non-established -ify words cautiously and sparingly; used too flippantly, they can inadvertently amateurify an entire paragraph or passage. More often than not, I'd probably go with “made (or converted, or wrote) into lyrics” before springing lyrify on my readers or listeners.

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This may also be an example of branding seeping into the language, ala kleenex. Songify is an app that turns speech into a song, and has been a YouTube meme for a while now. It's ability to work into the language seems a simple extension of that app's purpose.

The meaning would be clear, in that "-ify" applied as a suffix to song is obviously denoting "to make into a song," but it is not anything with an established pedigree.

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