cut the mustard

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cut the mustard

1. slang To work or operate in a satisfactory manner. The origin of this phrase is debated. I need a new worker from the temp agency—the one you sent over keeps mixing up orders and just isn't cutting the mustard. This toaster doesn't cut the mustard anymore. No matter what setting you choose, your toast comes out charred!
2. slang To work or act with energy and enthusiasm, as is characteristic of the young. That guy looks like he's 110 years old—there's no way he'll be able to cut the mustard stocking shelves all day!
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cut the mustard

Perform satisfactorily, as in We need a better catcher; this one just doesn't cut the mustard. The origin of this expression is disputed. Some believe it alludes to mustard in the sense of the best or main attraction (owing to its spicing up food), whereas others believe it is a corruption of pass muster. Still others hold that it concerns the preparation of mustard, which involves adding vinegar to mustard seed to "cut" (reduce) its bitterness. The expression is often in negative form, as in the example. [Slang; c. 1900]
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cut the mustard

come up to expectations; meet the required standard. informal
Mustard appears in early 20th-century US slang with the general meaning of ‘the best of anything’.
1998 New Scientist But if you want to go beyond this into hypersonic flight…they just don't cut the mustard.
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(not) cut the ˈmustard

(not) be as good as expected or required: I didn’t cut the mustard as a hockey player. Mustard in this expression may possibly refer to an old-fashioned slang word used in American English, meaning ‘the best of anything’.
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cut the mustard

verb
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cut the mustard

1. tv. to be able to do something requiring youth or vigor. (Usually in the expression too old to cut the mustard.) Do you really think he can cut the mustard?
2. Go to cut the cheese.
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cut the mustard

To perform up to expectations or to a required standard.
See also: cut, mustard