non·​de·​script ˌnän-di-ˈskript How to pronounce nondescript (audio)
: 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
: lacking distinctive or interesting qualities : dull, drab
Their performance was disappointingly nondescript.
nondescript noun

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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").

Example Sentences

I work in one of the nondescript office buildings downtown. Their performance was disappointingly nondescript.
Recent Examples on the Web View Photos The Cressida is a handsome car, in the sort of nondescript, Mercury Zephyr sense of the word. David E. Davis Jr., Car and Driver, 16 May 2023 Today, the 1,426-square-foot nondescript home has morphed into a 1,950-square-foot contemporary home. Lisa Boone, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2023 His bakery Au Levain des Pyrénées is located in a nondescript corner of eastern Paris’s 20th arrondissement neighborhood, far from the palaces that make up the center of the capital’s public life. Oliver Briscoe, CNN, 15 May 2023 The lead-free German crystal decanter is sleek in design, with the spinner device being a nondescript black plastic. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 11 May 2023 The filing cabinets that John Collier photographed in 1941 look utterly nondescript. Mark Feeney,, 10 May 2023 Those who make their way to the nondescript building open a door, walk down a hall and step into a small, windowless room. Thallman, oregonlive, 25 Apr. 2023 For those who would suggest the 49ers won’t make a deep playoff run with such a nondescript player starting at such a key position, remember, after McGlinchey suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9 in 2021, the 49ers made a deep playoff run with Tom Compton starting at right tackle. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 May 2023 Now an apartment complex, the seemingly nondescript building used to be a tenement where the city’s poor lived, including Mr. Silva’s father. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nondescript.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


non- + Latin descriptus, past participle of describere to describe

First Known Use

1789, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nondescript was in 1789


Dictionary Entries Near nondescript

Cite this Entry

“Nondescript.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


non·​de·​script ˌnän-di-ˈskript How to pronounce nondescript (audio)
: belonging or appearing to belong to no particular class or kind : not easily described
nondescript noun

More from Merriam-Webster on nondescript

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