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 With only an occasional smattering of applause, the atmosphere was more akin to a nondescript amateur tournament than one of the world's most famous sporting events. Paul Newberry, Star Tribune, "Fast start: Tiger bucks his Masters history with opening 68," 12 Nov. 2020 Both the novel and Minghella’s chillingly decorative film begin with a case of misidentification: The nondescript Ripley is taken by the shipbuilding magnate Herbert Greenleaf for an Ivy League classmate of his wayward son, Richard, known as Dickie. Megan O’grady, New York Times, "How ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ Foretold Our Era of Grifting," 12 Nov. 2020 Most are dark evergreen, rather nondescript shrubs or small trees. oregonlive, "These plants will bring fall color and fragrance to Oregon gardens," 6 Nov. 2020 And instead of nondescript white bread, the restaurant uses fluffy Japanese milk bread, which adds a buttery and slightly sweet note to each bite. Nick Kindelsperger,, "13 new sandwiches to take home today: How Chicago restaurants are cramming deliciousness between slices of bread to survive the pandemic economy," 30 Oct. 2020 Even the fun of seeing New Orleans on-screen is muted by the fact that the film is set in a nondescript Texas city. Mike Scott,, "New Orleans-shot ‘Black Box’ a satisfying chiller from producer of low-budget horror films," 5 Oct. 2020 Built in 1962, Jackson’s building was a nondescript, three-story brick rectangle with air-conditioning units tilting out the windows. Matthew Desmond, New York Times, "The Tenants Who Evicted Their Landlord," 13 Oct. 2020 In 1964, Santa Barbara Winery began making wine in a nondescript warehouse near the city’s oceanfront. Matt Kettmann,, "How to explore the urban wine scene of Santa Barbara," 30 July 2019 And there are also two nondescript black males representing masculine futility across time — perhaps an unfortunate residue of Monae’s aggressive-progressive Halloween gender-play. Armond White, National Review, "Antebellum, a Race-Hustling Halloween Party," 7 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for nondescript

Time Traveler

The first known use of nondescript was in 1789

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nondescript.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for nondescript


How to pronounce nondescript (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nondescript

Nglish: Translation of nondescript for Spanish Speakers

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