non·​de·​script | \ ˌnän-di-ˈskript How to pronounce nondescript (audio) \

Definition of nondescript

1 : belonging or appearing to belong to no particular class or kind : not easily described … a nondescript mixture of styles in the worst possible taste.— George Bernard Shaw
2 : lacking distinctive or interesting qualities : dull, drab Their performance was disappointingly nondescript.

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Other Words from nondescript

nondescript noun

How Nondescript Was Formed

It is relatively easy to describe the origins of "nondescript" (and there's a hint in the first part of this sentence). "Nondescript" was formed by combining the prefix non- (meaning "not") with the past participle of the Latin verb describere, meaning "to describe." It is no surprise, then, that when the word was adopted in the late 17th century by English speakers, it was typically applied to something (such as a genus or species) that had not yet been described. Other descriptive descendants of "describere" in English include "describe," "description," and "descriptive" itself, as well as the rare philosophical term "descriptum" ("something that is described").

Examples of nondescript in a Sentence

I work in one of the nondescript office buildings downtown. Their performance was disappointingly nondescript.

Recent Examples on the Web

The standard kit comes with a two-day supply of nondescript food squares, while the deluxe kit comes with a two-day supply of beef stroganoff. Steve Rubenstein,, "San Francisco hands out fake earthquakes to prepare for the real thing," 11 June 2019 These observations have revealed the repeater’s home to be a nondescript dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away. Yvette Cendes, Discover Magazine, "What Are FRBs? The Discovery of Mysterious Signals From the Cosmos," 7 Feb. 2019 The video shows Heyit in a gray sweater against a nondescript gray wall. Yanan Wang, The Seattle Times, "Uighurs to China: Post a video of my missing relatives, too," 12 Feb. 2019 Welcome to Cedar Park The bus turns right at the chain Tex-Mex restaurant and pulls into what seems like a nondescript strip mall. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "Staring at Firefly Aerospace’s hot rocket-engine flames in a Texas pasture," 17 Mar. 2018 In an otherwise nondescript office tower at 42 East 49th Street, a brass wall plaque with a very familiar four-tree logo has appeared. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The New Four Seasons Opens this Week," 13 Aug. 2018 Within this seemingly nondescript university room, Romania's first truly digital generation was born. Andrada Fiscutean, Ars Technica, "The adventures of lab ED011—“Nobody would be able to duplicate what happened there”," 27 Aug. 2018 Royal China Buford Highway is known as the main artery for international food in Atlanta, and Royal China is just off the main drag in a nondescript office park—but don’t let the dodgy exterior put you off. Jennifer Bradley Franklin, Condé Nast Traveler, "10 Best Brunch Places in Atlanta," 21 Aug. 2018 In a nondescript office park in Elkton, Maryland, a few miles from the Delaware state line, two new labs recreate blistering deserts and frigid tundras. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Inside the Futuristic Labs That Forge Gore-Tex," 28 Nov. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nondescript.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nondescript

1789, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nondescript

non- + Latin descriptus, past participle of describere to describe

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Statistics for nondescript

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for nondescript

The first known use of nondescript was in 1789

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More Definitions for nondescript



English Language Learners Definition of nondescript

: not easily described : having no special or interesting qualities, parts, etc. : typical and uninteresting


non·​de·​script | \ ˌnän-di-ˈskript How to pronounce nondescript (audio) \

Kids Definition of nondescript

: having no special or interesting characteristics : not easily described a nondescript building

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More from Merriam-Webster on nondescript

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nondescript

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nondescript

Spanish Central: Translation of nondescript

Nglish: Translation of nondescript for Spanish Speakers

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