If something “cut the mustard” that means it met a required standard; it filled expectations.
In other words, it measured up to the standards I was looking for.
The Origin Of ‘Cut The Mustard’
The origin of the phrase ‘cut the mustard’ is unclear. The earliest appearance of this saying in print (that I could find) 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 appearing in print. 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.’ “
So this phrase is at least 130 years old.
Some people find this phrase funny because they imagine literally trying to cut mustard. This expression is on our list of funny old sayings, so check it out to see more like it.
- To fix my back problems, my doctor suggested I buy a new chair with better lumbar support. So I did that and I have to say, the chair I bought has really cut the mustard.
- I’m searching for a new home, but the ones I’ve looked at thus far have not been cutting the mustard. I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll find something suitable in this part of town.