non·​de·​script | \ ˌnän-di-ˈskript \

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

No one could have predicted that this young prince from the Ethiopian highlands would perish in the face of indifferent treatment by his college soccer coach on a nondescript Wednesday night. Melissa Fay Greene, The Cut, "A mother considers her son’s final thoughts and a type of suicide we don’t fully understand.," 24 June 2018 Industry types who are familiar with the label will also be familiar with its longtime studio on Canal—a dreamy, expansive space on the fifth floor of a nondescript building in between Mercer and Church—with no elevator. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Sea’s Beautiful New Store Will Change the Way You Shop on Canal Street—And It’s Here Just in Time for the Holidays," 21 Dec. 2018 Many bronze watch cases rely on the color of the material for visual impact, and have chunky, nondescript cases. Michael Clerizo, WSJ, "The Best Watches of 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 These cancers sometimes cause other symptoms, such as painful urination, pain in your back, side, or pelvis, and fatigue—all pretty nondescript and easy to mistakenly chalk up to other causes. Korin Miller, SELF, "10 Things That Can Cause Blood in Your Urine," 19 Sep. 2018 Their emphasis on album graphics feels especially singular given how common nondescript, plain white paper sleeves are in electronic music releases. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "The Argentinian Artist Whose Colorful Closet and Music Are Inspired by Postmodern Furniture," 24 Dec. 2018 In a time when a congresswoman’s nondescript black jacket and coat can inspire mockery, that kind of equality can seem out of reach. Anna North, Vox, "America’s sexist obsession with what women politicians wear, explained," 3 Dec. 2018 Unlike so many modern coworking spaces that fill nondescript real estate, Boitsfort had some exceptional raw material to work with. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "This Brutalist masterpiece is now a gorgeous coworking space," 12 Dec. 2018 Alexandra Ocasio Cortez wore a nondescript black jacket, and that was enough for a controversy. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Stop Telling Women What to Wear to Work," 5 Dec. 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 \

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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