lack·​lus·​ter ˈlak-ˌlə-stər How to pronounce lackluster (audio)
: lacking in sheen, brilliance, or vitality : dull, mediocre
The actor gave a lackluster performance.
lackluster noun

Did you know?

In its earliest uses, lackluster (also spelled lacklustre) usually described eyes that were dull or lacking in brightness, as in "a lackluster stare." Later, it came to describe other things whose sheen had been removed; Charles Dickens, in his 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit, writes of the faded image of the dragon on the sign outside a village alehouse: "many a wintry storm of rain, snow, sleet, and hail, had changed his colour from a gaudy blue to a faint lack-lustre shade of grey." In addition to "a glow or sheen," luster can refer to a superficial attractiveness or appearance of excellence; it follows then that lackluster is often used as a synonym for unspectacular.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The offense’s lackluster performance overshadowed an admirable effort by the UA defense. Michael Lev, The Arizona Republic, 19 Nov. 2022 Trump's pending announcement also comes amid GOP infighting after a lackluster performance in the midterms. Rachel Scott, ABC News, 15 Nov. 2022 While unlikely to succeed, Scott’s unexpected challenge to McConnell comes as Republicans are wrestling over a lackluster performance in the midterms, when the party out of power historically sees significant gains. Brian Slodysko, Mary Clare Jalonick, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Nov. 2022 Many Republicans blame Trump for the party’s lackluster performance in the midterms after expectations were sky-high that the GOP would retake control of Congress. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Nov. 2022 But the lackluster market performance under Biden does reflect the broader economic challenges weighing on the minds of voters this midterm election. Matt Egan, CNN, 7 Nov. 2022 But since Fetterman suffered a stroke in May and turned in a lackluster debate performance last month, Oz has narrowed the race. Los Angeles Times, 5 Nov. 2022 And the defense’s latest lackluster performance came against an offensive line that lost two starters in the first half. Mark Long, Orlando Sentinel, 25 Oct. 2022 After a lackluster offensive performance against Pittsburgh in Week 1, the Bengals wanted to remind people of the dangerous offensive displays that had them in last season’s Super Bowl. Jonathan X. Simmons, cleveland, 18 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lackluster.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1600, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lackluster was in 1600


Dictionary Entries Near lackluster

Cite this Entry

“Lackluster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



lack·​lus·​ter ˈlak-ˌləs-tər How to pronounce lackluster (audio)
: lacking in brightness, radiance, or interest : dull
a lackluster performance
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.