pass muster » pass mustard
Spotted in the wild:
- … then there should be no problem for those candidates with even the smallest minority of support (10% is certainly a reasonable minimum), to pass mustard. … (link)
- … authentic swipes at the dreaded Hot Rod genre herein, the coolest by far is the band’s own composition, “Shelby GT 356″ which would easily pass mustard on the … (link)
- … best to value industries and stocks within them, and finally we show how to write a really lazy column but make it look good enough to pass mustard, at least … (link)
About 520 Google net hits on 25 March 2005, though some of these are about passing actual mustard.
“Mustard” is hugely more familiar a word than “muster”, so the reshaping isn’t entirely surprising. Perhaps the sharpness and spiciness of mustard is part of the semantic appeal of the reshaping; “mustard” suggests a difficult test to pass.
In a sci.lang discussion (25 March 2005) of “pass a mustard” in the writing of a poster (who is possibly not a native speaker of English), Ross Clark suggested hybridization (that is, idiom blending) of “pass muster” with “cut the mustard”.