pass muster » pass mustard

Classification: English – final d/t-deletion

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”.

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/03/25 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Marty Carpenter , 2005/12/18 at 6:45 pm

    This one is just mustard for muster, no passing…
    “then maybe I’ll try to mustard up some sort of compassion.”

    Found in the comments 12/18/2005 on

  2. 2

    Commentary by Wilson Gray , 2006/08/23 at 2:52 am

    The writer apprently believes that the phrase literally refers to mustard and has, therefore, made a “correction”:

    Message commenting upon ZDNet Must-Read News Alert, 2006/08/22: Microsoft reaches out to FireFox developers:

    “*If* there is a problem running Firefox on Vista, and *if* Microsoft
    gives a crap about it, then *THEY* could write the fix for it, submit
    it, and, if it passes _the_ mustard, it would then be accepted.”

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