If something “cut the mustard” that means it met a required standard; it filled expectations.
Example: I have an old vacuum that doesn’t work anymore, so it’s time to buy a new one. I’m looking for one that’s slimmer and lighter in weight so it’s easier to carry around. I also want it to be more flexible so it can get to those hard to reach places, like under furniture. After doing some research, I bought a vacuum from Eureka and I have to say, it cut the mustard.
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 to be funny because they imagine trying to literally cut mustard with a sharp object. If you want to find more funny old sayings, check out that list.
- To fix my back problems, my doctor suggested I buy a new chair with better lumbar support. So I did and I have to say, so far its really cut the mustard.
- I’m looking for a cheaper home for my family, but the ones we’ve looked at so far are not cutting the mustard. We’re beginning to doubt that we’ll find something suitable in this part of town.