This word comes from the French meaning “not concerned”. Therefore, remember to pronounce it the way you would a French word (nan-sha-lahnt). If I tell you this word is a high-frequency word on the SAT and your reaction is a shoulder shrug, then you are being nonchalant: you are expressing a lack of concern over something that causes anxiety in most.
Notice how the word ‘commit’ is buried in there. Not too surprisingly then, the meaning of this word means not committing very strongly to anything.
Mark: Hey, there is this awesome movie coming out this weekend. Lots of stuff blows up and people die. You wanna come with?
Gertrude: Well, I do have like some other stuff to do, like kind of. But yeah, maybe. Sure, we’ll see. I don’t know.
Gertrude was being pretty noncommittal. Mark should probably do a better job of selling the film (“people die” – really, Mark?).
Government buildings, the expression worn by DMV workers, and tax forms are all pretty nondescript. That is, they lack anything distinctive or interesting about them.
The mayor, surprisingly, lived in a nondescript home, tucked away in a gated community in which every house looked the same.
A person who is unimportant and doesn’t have anything interesting about them is a nonentity. Many people, before being propelled to the summits of fame, were nonentities. Indeed, had it not been for Youtube many—who have since achieved fame—would have remained nonentities. Justin Bieber jumps to mind.
Of course being a nonentity doesn’t just mean not being famous—it’s all relative, as they say. So in your classroom, the one weird dude who sings to himself and never looks anybody in the eye is likely a nonentity.