Definition of nondescript
- … a nondescript mixture of styles in the worst possible taste.
- —George Bernard Shaw
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I work in one of the nondescript office buildings downtown.
Their performance was disappointingly nondescript.
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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").
First Known Use: 1789See Words from the same year
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