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.

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 descriptus,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 Inside the House Inquiry: From a nondescript office building, the panel has been quietly ramping up its sprawling and elaborate investigation. Luke Broadwater, New York Times, 12 Jan. 2022 At 1,066 feet, this JDS and SHoP Architects collaboration is now Brooklyn’s tallest and an aesthetic rarity among the area’s nondescript glass skyscrapers. Kim Velsey, Curbed, 29 Dec. 2021 Subsequent governors in the 1980s and ’90s — George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis — lived in a nondescript split-level home in east Sacramento. Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 Dec. 2021 Many are in nondescript buildings converted from previous incarnations. Tim Gray, Variety, 16 Dec. 2021 Kunsan also features several nondescript, squarish buildings, which are munitions bunkers designed to offer protection to bombs and missiles while containing an explosion if a fire detonates the weapons stored inside. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 14 July 2021 The clinic Zingman opened in 2019 consists of a office on the fourth floor of a nondescript building in downtown Silver Spring. Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2021 The nerve center of the Kyaw Thaung business empire is a nondescript walk-up office building in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. New York Times, 24 Dec. 2021 Situated on the fourth floor of a nondescript building in Chinatown, whose other tenants skew medical, it is run by Olivia Shao, a curator whose sharp mind and esoteric eye are consistently matched by her openhearted approach. Andrea K. Scott, The New Yorker, 23 Dec. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About nondescript

Time Traveler for nondescript

Time Traveler

The first known use of nondescript was in 1789

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About nondescript

Dictionary Entries Near nondescript




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for nondescript

Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nondescript.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

More from Merriam-Webster on nondescript

Nglish: Translation of nondescript for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!