Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to mustard: mustard gas
after meat, mustard
A phrase emphasizing that something has come too late to be useful (like mustard after meat has already been eaten). A: "Here, I finished my project, Mr. Smith!" B: "Ah, after meat, mustard. I've already submitted your final grade, and it's too late to change it."
the pope's mustard maker
A pompous person, especially one in an insignificant job or role. In the 14th century, Pope John XXII had a personal "moutardier" (mustard-maker), to ensure that his food was properly seasoned. All she does is copy files all day, but she acts like she's the pope's mustard maker. I practically have to beg for a chance to use the copier!
be as keen as mustard
To be very enthusiastic about something. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. These new kids are as keen as mustard to be in the choir, so we can definitely get them to clean up the choir room for us.
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!
3. rude slang To fart. I can't believe you cut the mustard in the car. Now we have to smell it all the way home!
can't cut the mustard
1. slang Is unable to work or operate in a satisfactory manner. I need a new worker from the temp agency—the one you sent over keeps mixing up orders and just can't cut the mustard. This toaster can't cut the mustard anymore. No matter what setting you choose, your toast comes out charred!
2. slang Is unable to work or act with energy and enthusiasm. That guy looks like he's 110 years old—I'm sure he can't cut the mustard stocking shelves all day!
cut the cheese
rude slang To fart. I can't believe you cut the cheese in the car. Now we have to smell it all the way home!
not cut the mustard
To not be at a satisfactory or requisite level; to not successfully complete or accomplish a desired or expected result. The underdog gave a brilliant performance in the ring, but he just could not cut the mustard against the returning champion. I have to warn you, Jenkins, your last few reports haven't quite cut the mustard. You're going to need to improve if you want to keep your job here.
To be accepted as adequate; to meet the minimum or standard requirement. I gave the interview my best, but I guess I didn't pass muster. There are so many typos and structural problems—there's no way this report will pass muster with the boss.
keen as mustard
Very enthusiastic and excited (about or to do something). Hyphenated if used as a modifier before a noun. There are plenty of talented kids around this area who are keen as mustard to be on the team, so we should have no problem filling the spot. Silverstone plays the hardened veteran detective, while Ridley plays the keen-as-mustard rookie assigned to be her partner.
a grain of mustard seed
A small or seemingly insignificant thing that has the potential to grow or develop into something vast or formidable. Originating from the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the Bible (in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke), describing how the Christian faith spreads and flourishes from small beginnings. Every child is a grain of mustard seed—at once relatively small in the scope of the world, but having within them the power to shape the very course of human existence.
cut the cheeseand cut the mustard
Sl. to release intestinal gas. (Crude. Use caution with the topic.) Who cut the cheese? People who cut the mustard in the car have to get out and walk.
Fig. to measure up to the required standards. I tried, but my efforts didn't pass muster. If you don't wear a jacket and tie, you won't pass muster at that fancy restaurant. They won't let you in.
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]
Meet a required standard, as in That yard cleanup won't pass muster with Mom. This expression originally meant "to undergo a military review without censure," muster referring to an assembling of troops for inspection or a similar purpose. [Late 1500s]
keen as mustardmainly BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If someone is keen as mustard they are very eager to do something. I have an adult pupil who scored very low in assessments but is keen as mustard. Note: You can also describe someone as mustard-keen. Sir Richard was mustard-keen to say his bit. Note: `Keen' means enthusiastic, but is also used to mean sharp when referring to the blade or cutting edge of a tool or weapon. An acidic or sour taste can also be referred to as sharp, so enthusiasm is being likened to the sharp taste or `edge' given to food by mustard.
not cut the mustard
If someone or something doesn't cut the mustard, they are not of an acceptable standard. He's certainly a fine writer but as a director, he doesn't quite cut the mustard. For me, neither show quite cuts the mustard. Note: Less commonly, you hear people say that someone or something can cut the mustard, meaning that they are of a good standard. The thirty-year-old striker is keen to prove that he can still cut the mustard. Note: In the United States, `mustard' used to be slang for `the best' or `the genuine article'.
COMMON If someone or something passes muster, they are of a satisfactory standard for a particular purpose or job. He spoke French and Spanish and could just about pass muster in Italian. It is the only country that has yet to fulfill all the membership requirements, but it is expected to pass muster soon. Note: In the army and navy, a `muster' is an inspection of the soldiers' or sailors' uniforms and equipment.
cut the mustardcome 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.
a grain of mustard seeda small thing capable of vast development.
Black mustard seed grows to a great height. In Matthew 13:31–2 it is stated that ‘mustard seed…indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs’.
keen as mustardextremely eager or enthusiastic. British informal
Keen is used here to mean ‘operating on the senses like a sharp instrument’.
pass musterbe accepted as adequate or satisfactory.
This was originally a military expression, meaning ‘come through a review or inspection without censure’. It is found earlier (late 16th century to late 17th century) in the now obsolete form pass (the ) musters and has been in figurative use since the late 16th century.
(as) ˌkeen as ˈmustard(British English, informal) wanting very much to do well at something; enthusiastic: She’s as keen as mustard. She always gets here first in the morning and she’s the last to leave work in the evening.
(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’.
pass ˈmusterbe good enough; be acceptable: I didn’t think Charlie’s parents would like me, but evidently I pass muster. Muster is the calling together of soldiers, sailors, etc. for inspection. If you pass muster, you pass the inspection without criticism.
cut the cheeseand cut the mustard and cut a muffin
tv. to release intestinal gas. (Usually objectionable.) People who cut the mustard in the car have to get out and walk! Somebody cut a muffin!
cut the mustardverb
See cut the cheese
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.
cut the cheeseVulgar Slang
To expel intestinal gas.
cut the mustard
To perform up to expectations or to a required standard.
To be judged as acceptable.
To pass an examination or inspection; measure up to a given standard.
cut the mustard, to
To do a good job; to come up to a required standard; to succeed. It often is put negatively, as someone cannot cut the mustard, that is, is not performing adequately. The term is American slang, and its origin is disputed. According to one authority, “mustard” used to signify the best or main attraction in a show, probably because this condiment enhances the flavor of other foods. It was this sense that O. Henry apparently intended when he wrote, “I’m not headlined in the bills, but I’m the mustard in the salad dressing, just the same” (Cabbages and Kings), and later (1904), “I . . . found a proposition that exactly cut the mustard.” Another etymologist believes it comes from the military term, to pass muster. A third theory is that it comes from the preparation of the condiment, which involves adding vinegar to ground-up mustard seed; the vinegar is said to “cut” the bitter taste.
See also: cut