19

What word would describe someone who doesn't generally leave much of an impression on people?

  • 39
    I probably wouldn't call them anything, since I wouldn't remember who you're talking about.... ;-) – Hellion Aug 9 '11 at 21:48
  • 2
    How about Mr. Cellophane? – mattdwen Aug 10 '11 at 3:40
  • Somehow related reading. – nico Aug 10 '11 at 9:28
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    It's hard to remember words like that - they don't leave very much of an impression... – Franz Aug 10 '11 at 10:12
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    @Hellion: very good point. Perhaps that's why no one word carries this precise meaning. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 10 '11 at 13:29

19 Answers 19

47

"Bland" or "nondescript". Both have a connotation of not being memorable.

Of course, you could just go with "forgettable."

  • 2
    Bland isn't bad at all, though as I've said in another comment, I think "nondescript" strikes a better cord with what I was going for. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 9 '11 at 21:21
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    Looking at the times answered you seem to be the first to say "nondescript", and given how well "bland" also fits I'll give you the tick. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 9 '11 at 21:46
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    What if they left a lasting impression of being bland? – AttackingHobo Aug 9 '11 at 22:39
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    Would you bother to remember that? :-p – cha0sys Aug 9 '11 at 23:21
  • My initial reaction was "normal." – Toby Aug 10 '11 at 14:28
28

'Unremarkable' comes to mind. As does 'unimpressive.'

19

Simply "forgettable" or "unmemorable" could work. I quite like "nondescript" too, for someone or something without any distinctive qualities.

  • 1
    Nondescript! That is definitely in te region that I was heading towards. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 9 '11 at 21:19
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    “Unmemorable” and “forgettable” both seem excellent to me. You could even kick it up to the deliciously snarky cliché “eminently forgettable”. – PLL Aug 9 '11 at 21:42
18

I'd suggest such a person would be called a nonentity.

  • 1
    Not bad at all. I'll give you the tick if no one has any better suggests soon :). I'd up vote you but I need 15 reputation. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 9 '11 at 21:04
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    +1 for nonentity, but (if you agree with me) you might add that people whose vocabulary doesn't stretch that far are quite prone to call a nonentity a nobody. – FumbleFingers Aug 9 '11 at 21:11
  • While I think this is clever, I think it bears too much of an emotional impact to be used in normal conversation. Calling someone a nonentity feels more like you are saying they literally don't exist...vs. describing them as someone who doesn't leave a lasting or significant impression. I think the selected answers "nondescript" is probably the best term, as it doesn't leave any question as to the persons existence...just their impression. – jrista Aug 14 '11 at 2:51
6

Not quite an answer to the question, but "milquetoast" is a wonderful related word.

4

A person who is easily overlooked is often called a "wallflower", although that term has other connotations as well.

4

I'm not sure whether this applies to or makes sense in English. But the question reminded me instantly of a Japanese word. We call an unimpressive person Kagega Usui hito (影が薄い人) meaning person with thin shadow. The person doesn't have his presence even on his own shadow!

3

A Nobody, or as the Beatles might say "Nowhere Man" (check out the lyrics)

3

If I was was being poetic, I would call them "ephemeral" as in short-lived.

2

People who leave no lasting impression are shallow.

(Both literally and figuratively.) :)

1

A number of years ago I came across this book The Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations: Positive-Sounding References for People Who Can't Manage Their Own Sock Drawers

Depending on your needs, it could be useful, e.g.

  • The impression s/he conveys to others is no act
  • He was with our firm a few years back, but I can't remember the dates he worked for us
  • I can't remember ever hearing a colleague complain about her work
  • I can't begin to tell you what a fine person she is.

To be more direct, perhaps I could suggest:

  • forgettable
  • unimpressive
1

The term colorless, in its sense "Lacking in interest or variety", sometimes is used to describe a person lacking in distinctive features or attributes.

Everyman, "the archetypical ordinary individual", is occasionally used too, as well as terms like Joe Average and Mr. Average.

1

A person that doesn't leave much of an impression on people is commonly considered dull.

0

"Potato" comes to my mind. But you could flair them up by thinking of Mr/Mrs Potato head instead. After all people are not boring, it is our mind that makes them so.

0

A few more ideas.

  • uncharacteristic
  • unimpressive
  • unnoteworthy

Depending upon the context, forgettable may be the best choice.

0

"Ordinary" was one of my first thoughts.

0

Such a person could be described as an extra.

-1

"Boring" comes to mind for me.

  • 3
    I tend to remember people who fall under that catagory to insure I'm not subjected to it again. I'm trying to get a word for someone who is neither boring nor interesting. – Ferdia O'Brien Aug 9 '11 at 21:04
  • Good point. In that case, I really like @chaosys' suggestion of "bland." (Funny thing -- I will probably remember "bland" somewhat vividly now!) – Randolf Richardson Aug 9 '11 at 22:01
  • -1: boring people are generally memorable – nico Aug 10 '11 at 9:25
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    @Randolf: I also downvoted potato if that makes you feel better. I just don't like downvoting 3 answers at once (also because the SO system does not like serial downvoting). Dull has a slightly different acception, IMO, as it can also mean indistinct and muffled, although probably not referring to a person. – nico Aug 11 '11 at 9:18
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    @Randolf: no problem at all – nico Aug 12 '11 at 6:07
-1

I'd actually prefer the term transient.

  • 3
    That word often means "a homeless person", so probably isn't what you want to say. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 10 '11 at 16:27
  • Although it means 'for a brief time', in most legal situations, it effectively means mobile or doesn't maintain a fixed location. eg, 'transient merchants', 'transient workers' (aka migrant labor). It suggests more that the person doesn't stay, rather than the memory of them doesn't persist. – Joe Aug 12 '11 at 16:01
  • I never use the term for a homeless person. I've always used it to mean for a short time.... ie no trace left behind – Preet Sangha Aug 13 '11 at 7:14
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    Transient means that the person is going to disappear soon. "Adjective: Lasting only for a short time; impermanent." (Your memory of the person may be transient, but the person is probably not transient.) – ShreevatsaR Aug 15 '11 at 17:24

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