In its earliest uses, "lackluster" (also spelled "lacklustre") usually described the eyes or face, as in "a lackluster stare." Later, it came to describe other things whose sheen had been removed; Charles Dickens, in his 1843 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 that "lackluster" is often used as a synonym for "unspectacular," as in our examples.
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