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").

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 Beltré signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners, and five nondescript seasons later, blossomed in one year with the Boston Red Sox and eight with the Texas Rangers. Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 Tate McRae is clearly a talented performer, but despite her previous success, a lot of her those singles felt faceless and nondescript. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 21 Nov. 2023 For the most part, the charger is a nondescript surge-protector-style charging block. WIRED, 16 Nov. 2023 Adding to this sense of mystery is the moth’s tiny size and nondescript appearance. Rina Diane Caballar, Discover Magazine, 12 Nov. 2023 Founded by Peter Mullin, an insurance industry executive, the museum, hidden in a nondescript industrial park in the town of Oxnard features French vehicles from the 1890s to the present. Eric A. Taub, New York Times, 30 Oct. 2023 At a nondescript Irish pub on Avenue A, Marnie Stern is delineating her sonic priorities. Jenn Pelly, Pitchfork, 9 Nov. 2023 Samari Lakes East, a nondescript condo complex near Miami, was battered by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Jean Eaglesham, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2023 Newsletters Sign up for Morning Rounds Your daily dose of news in health and medicine Today, tests are created faster than new codes can be assigned to identify them, so a wide range of genetic testing is lumped under one nondescript Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code. Jason Bush, STAT, 19 Oct. 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 28 Nov. 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

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