(third-person singular simple present cuts the mustard, present participle cutting the mustard, simple past and past participle cut the mustard)
- This idiom usually appears in negative polarity contexts: “doesn't cut the mustard”, “can't cut the mustard”, and so on.
- Probably from likening the pungency of the spice mustard as a superlative or as something that adds zest to a situation.
- Possibly derived from the idiom 'to pass muster', an expression for assembling military troops for inspection. A troop who has achieved excellent performance in, for example, a room inspection, is allowed to skip, or "cut" having to stand a formal muster or formation and go on liberty early, etc.