Meeting a required standard; filling expectations.
Example: My fitness coach told me to focus on my cardio and he gave me a goal to reach. He said I should work my way up to the point where I could jog for a mile without being out of breath by the end of it. It took some time, but eventually I was able to do just that. Thus, it could be said that I cut the mustard.
The Origin Of ‘Cut The Mustard’
The origin of the phrase ‘cut the mustard’ is unclear. The earliest that I could find of this saying in print is from a writer named O. Henry. He wrote many stories near the beginning of the 20th century. In one of them, which is believed to have been written around the year 1909, it reads:
“She cut the mustard.”
However, according to The Phrase Finder, there’s an earlier example of this saying in writing. This example is from a newspaper called The Ottawa Herald, 1889:
“He tried to run the post office business under Cleveland’s administration, but ‘couldn’t cut the mustard.’ “
- My wife and I are searching for a cheaper home, but none of the ones we’ve looked at so far are cutting the mustard, and we’re beginning to doubt that we’ll find one that’s suitable in this part of town.
- This brand new chair has really cut the mustard, as it is much more comfortable than my old one.
Note: Sometimes, the origin of an idiom is unclear, like the one above. When this happens (or even in cases where it does not), you’ll usually see an old quote on the page that contains the idiom. These quotes can help give you an idea on how old the expression is. In addition to the quotes, if there is a theory for the phrase that talks about how it might have originated, then that will likely be included as well.