cut the mustard, to

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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!
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!
See also: cut, mustard
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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]
See also: cut, mustard
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: cut, mustard
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(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’.
See also: cut, mustard
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cut the mustard

verb
See also: cut, mustard

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.
See also: cut, mustard
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

cut the mustard

To perform up to expectations or to a required standard.
See also: cut, mustard
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Alan King's ex-French sevenyear-old failed to cut the mustard in handicap chases at Exeter and Fontwell on his first two outings this winter.
TELLY chef Rosemary Shrager failed to cut the mustard as she was voted out of I'm a Celebrity last night.
He's already failed to cut the mustard in RE and cookery.
While she failed to cut the mustard behind Reverence and company on the Knavesmire, Enticing had previously shown her mettle when inching out Wi Dud in the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood.
His father Anthony said: "The funny thing is there is a lot said about young drivers not being able to cut the mustard.
Kettering have a great chance in terms of crowd support, but will Gazza be able to cut the mustard especially if he dangerously puts his playing ability on the line at this late stage of his career?
Joe Royle filled the gaps in his squad by promoting a host of talented youngsters, who have risen to the challenge in some matches and failed to cut the mustard on other occasions.
And the signings Dave Jones made either needed far too long to bed in - Camara and Issac Okoronkwo - or failed to cut the mustard - Silas.
What the tree-huggers need to understand is that a pair of shoes made out of non-genetically modified, additives and pesticides-free barley woven by third world children and bought at a trade fair just isn't going to cut the mustard under six inches of snow.
Even though the second of his two Augusta victories came 12 long years ago, he has continued to cut the mustard there.
The Irish flop has been a figure of ridicule at Sunderland after failing to cut the mustard in the Premiership.
In his absence - and that of Red Rose midfield partner Manu Tuilagi - Billy Twelvetrees and Joel Tomkins failed to cut the mustard. Barritt was cleared to return on Saturday and played the last half hour in table-topping Sarries' 26-8 win at bottom club Worcester.
Failed to cut the mustard in the Richmond Stakes, but had previously shown he was no mug when fourth in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury.
NEW boys Dijon failed to cut the mustard as they were hammered 5-1 at home by Rennes in their first match in France's top flight.
Failed to cut the mustard over hurdles, but of interest on this return to the Flat.