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

The office may be nondescript, anonymous even, but the assessor-recorder-county clerk is a powerful post with responsibilities and influence that affect virtually every resident and patch of ground in the region. Jeff Mcdonald,, "County assessor: Campaign is drawing interest, political contributions," 4 May 2018 In Mérida, however, the project in question is a renovation of an old home in the city’s historic center, where a nondescript facade conceals an oasis beyond its walls. Lauren Ro, Curbed, "Renovated courtyard house is all about indoor-outdoor living," 11 June 2018 Others posed in everyday locations: living rooms, sidewalks and nondescript streets. Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, "As China censors 'Tank Man' anniversary, protestors re-enact iconic demonstration near Tiananmen Square," 4 June 2018 Other numbers listed under Solis' name were expired or went to nondescript mailboxes. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "They bought tickets to a bogus sushi festival. Now they can’t get their money back," 11 July 2018 Meneses’ road to simply get on a triple-A roster is an unlikely one in itself, but his performance since landing on this one is even more unfathomable, considering his nondescript past. Ben Pope,, "Phillies prospect Joey Meneses looks MLB-ready, whether here or elsewhere," 9 July 2018 Of course, no one who Slacked me about the nondescript lipstick knew this. Kathleen Hou, The Cut, "Everyone Loves This Mysterious Lipstick," 27 June 2018 Billings pinpointed a nondescript hole in the ground called the Rose of Peru mine. Paul Larosa, CBS News, "Search for missing Marine wife "like finding a needle in a thousand haystacks”," 12 June 2018 In 1998, however, a dispute over the nondescript border town of Badme turned into a savage, year-and-a-half-long war that claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides. Paul Schemm, Washington Post, "Ethiopia says it is ready to implement Eritrea peace deal and privatize parts of the economy," 5 June 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

9 Oct 2018

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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 \

Kids Definition of nondescript

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

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Comments on nondescript

What made you want to look up nondescript? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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