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Cut the mustard

Context #1

Who are you going to
choose for the front desk staff position?
Wick: I’m not sure yet. Both candidates are smart, but neither can cut the mustard.
John: You have to pick one of them though, right?
Wick: Not if they can’t meet our standards.

Context #2

I’m not worried
about next week’s competition at all.
Adrian: Why? You should never underestimate the abilities of an opponent.
Paulie: I know someone who’s been watching that
team, and they say that their skills will never cut the mustard versus our team.
Adrian: Well if they can’t meet the expectations of
the competition, they’re going to have a
difficult time with our team.

Meaning: The expression “Cut the mustard”
means to measure up to the standard or meet the expectation of something. (Usually this involves a set of skills,
qualifications, and experiences). 


  1. Post comment

    Thanks a whole lot for sharing guys … We carried out a brief survey among our US contacts (not teachers!) and they suggested using phrases like 'cut it / make the cut / make the grade / pass muster / hack it / measure up to' to express the same idea … Would it be correct to use them as completely synonymous? Or are there slight differences?

    Your Russian fans

    1. Post comment

      Thanks for the great question! Yeah, there are a lot of ways to say that someone/something doesn't "measure up" to a standard, and most of those pretty much mean the same thing. The only difference would be "couldn't hack it" and "didn't make the grade" which both mean that a person failed (there isn't a comparison to a standard). Otherwise, those expressions all basically mean the same thing ("cut the mustard" is more colorful and "pass muster" is a little old-fashioned – the others are all pretty synonymous).


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