Etymology
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wan (adj.)
Old English wann "dark, dusky, lacking luster," later "leaden, pale, gray," of uncertain origin, and not found in other Germanic languages. The connecting notion is colorlessness. Perhaps related to wane. Related: Wanly; wanness.
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gloss (n.1)
"glistening smoothness, luster," 1530s, probably from Scandinavian (compare Icelandic glossi "a spark, a flame," related to glossa "to flame"), or obsolete Dutch gloos "a glowing," from Middle High German glos; probably ultimately from the same source as English glow (v.). Superficial lustrous smoothness due to the nature of the material (unlike polish, which is artificial).
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refulgence (n.)

"state or character of shining brightly; a flood of light," 1630s, from Latin refulgentia "reflected luster, splendor," from refulgens, present participle of refulgere "flash back, shine brilliantly," from re- "back" (see re-) + fulgere "to shine" (from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn"). Related: Refulgency (1610s).

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margarin (n.)

1836, from French margarine, a chemical term given to a fatty substance obtained from animal and vegetable oil, coined by French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889) in 1813 from (acide) margarique "margaric (acid);" literally "pearly," from Greek margaritēs "pearl" (see Margaret). So called for the luster of the crystals. Now discarded in this sense as a chemical term, but preserved in margarine.

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brilliant (adj.)
"sparkling with light or luster," 1680s, from French brilliant "sparkling, shining" present participle of briller "to shine" (16c.), from Italian brillare "sparkle, whirl," perhaps from Vulgar Latin *berillare "to shine like a beryl," from berillus "beryl, precious stone," from Latin beryllus (see beryl).

Figurative sense of "distinguished by admirable qualities" is from 1848. Of diamonds from 1680s in reference to a flat-topped cut invented 17c. by Venetian cutter Vincenzo Peruzzi. Related: Brilliantly; brilliantness.
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anthracite (n.)
"non-bituminous coal, hard coal," 1812, earlier (c. 1600) a type of ruby-like gem described by Pliny, from Latin anthracites "bloodstone, semi-precious gem," from Greek anthrakites "coal-like," from anthrax (genitive anthrakos) "live coal" (see anthrax). Deep black with a brilliant luster, it is nearly pure carbon and burns almost without a flame and formerly was mined extensively in eastern Pennsylvania and south Wales. Related: Anthractic (adj.), anthracitic.
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tarnish (v.)

mid-15c. ternishen, "become tarnished; discolor," from Old French terniss-, present-participle stem of ternir "dull the luster or brightness of, make dim" (15c.), probably from terne (adj.) "dull, dark," which according to Diez is from a Germanic source cognate with Old High German tarnjan "to conceal, hide," Old English dyrnan "to hide, darken," from Proto-Germanic *darnjaz (see dern), but there are difficulties of form, sense, and date. Figurative sense is from 1690s. Related: Tarnished; tarnishing.

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gloss (v.)
c. 1300, glosen "use fair words; speak smoothly, cajole, flatter;" late 14c. as "comment on (a text), insert a word as an explanation, interpret," from Medieval Latin glossare and Old French gloser, from Late Latin glossa (see gloss (n.2)). Modern spelling from 16c.; formerly also gloze.

The other verb, meaning "to add luster, make smooth and shining," is from 1650s, from gloss (n.1). Figurative sense of "smooth over, hide" is from 1729, mostly from the first verb, in its extended sense of "explain away, veil or shift the meaning of," but showing influence of the second. Related: Glossed; glossing.
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ornament (n.)

c. 1200, ournement, "an accessory; something that serves primarily for use but also may serve as adornment; ornamental apparel, jewels," from Old French ornement "ornament, decoration," and directly from Latin ornamentum "apparatus, equipment, trappings; embellishment, decoration, trinket," from ornare "to equip, adorn," from stem of ordo "row, rank, series, arrangement" (see order (n.)).

The sense shift in English to "something employed simply to adorn or decorate, something added as an embellishment, whatever lends grace or beauty to that to which it is added or belongs" is by late 14c. (this also was a secondary sense in classical Latin). Meaning "outward appearance, mere display" is from 1590s. The figurative use is from 1550s; the meaning "one who adds luster to one's sphere or surroundings" is from 1570s.

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obscurity (n.)

late 15c., obscurite, "absence of light, lack of brightness or luster;" 1610s with the meaning "condition of being unknown or inconspicuous;" from obscure (adj.) + -ity; or else from Old French obscurete, a variant of oscureté "darkness, gloom; vagueness, confusion; insignificance" (14c.) and directly from Latin obscuritatem (nominative obscuritas) "darkness, indistinctness, uncertainty," from obscurus. Meaning "quality or condition of not being clearly comprehended" is from late 15c. (Caxton).

When I was asked to talk about the Obscurity of the Modern Poet I was delighted, for I have suffered from this obscurity all my life. But then I realized that I was being asked to talk not about the fact that people don't read poetry, but about the fact that most of them wouldn't understand it if they did .... [Randall Jarrell, "The Obscurity of Poetry," 1953]
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