What Does the Expression “Too Old To Cut the Mustard” Mean and Where Did the Idiom Come From?

The phrase “too old to cut the mustard” was popularized by a hit song during the 1940s when military expressions were uppermost in the minds of returning servicemen.

Simply put, it means that one’s “salad days” are in the past.

Mustard is a mispronunciation of the military word muster, which means “inspection.”

If a soldier doesn’t “cut or pass muster,” he or she doesn’t make the grade.

In effect, the soldier fails to pass inspection, and that’s where the expression comes from.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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