cut the mustard
- 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. Usage evidence does not support this derivation.
- (idiomatic) To suffice; to be good or effective enough.
- Give me the bigger hammer. This little one just doesn't cut the mustard.
- This idiom usually appears in negative polarity contexts: “doesn't cut the mustard”, “can't cut the mustard”, and so on.
be good or effective enough