[Ads-l] "Cut the mustard" antedating - March 13, 1886

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed May 2 13:27:48 EDT 2018

These two texts--the first also with a scan, showing that there is no further context given--are also here:



origin of the phrases containing ‘mustard’ | word histories<https://wordhistories.net/2017/12/22/phrases-containing-mustard/>
In the phrases containing 'mustard', the image is of something which adds heat or pungency.

There's likely more to say about mustard, and about Sam's evening, though.
Stephen Goranson


From: American Dialect Society <..> on behalf of Peter Reitan <...>
Sent: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 3:16:08 PM
To: ...
Subject: [ADS-L] "Cut the mustard" antedating - March 13, 1886

I've found two examples a few weeks earlier than what was the earliest example of which I was aware, which was dated April 7, 1886.  Both are from the same region of Missouri.  One of them, like most of the other early examples, relates to local politics, but the earliest one appears to be unrelated to politics.

The Lexington Intelligencer (Lexington, Missouri), March 13, 1886, page 1.
[Excerpt] Sam went to see Miss Mollie last Sunday evening, and as the butter and biscuit had given out, Sam did not stay long, Sam you could not cut the mustard. [End Excerpt]

Clinton Eye (Clinton, Missouri), March 27, 1886, page 4.
[Excerpt] There is one grand reason why Thomas J. Lingle will not attend to the post-office duties at Clinton: he "didn't cut the mustard." But when he got home he published such a fine article on the obsses, and we read it, and so did one or two others. - Bates County Democrat. [End Excerpt]

This second example appears to be the article to which the April 7, 1886 article referred:

The ButlerWeekly Times (Butler, Missouri), April 7, 1886, page 4, column 2.
[Excerpt] “Can’t cut the mustard,” is what our good brother Wade of the Butler Democrat calls getting left on a post office.  This jargon of a political juggler shall not divert our attention from the main issue which is, that Wade’s days as a boss in Bates are numbered, and we will wager him a ton of Henry county coal against a half dozen lots in Walnut and three or four of his last year’s railroads, that he “can’t deliver the goods,” either directly or indirectly, and that when he undertakes to use the democracy of Bates to pay his personal obligations, that he will be repudiated by a large majority. – Henry Co. Democrat. [End Excerpt]

History and Etymology of "Cut the Mustard" - Locusts, Bad Seeds, Invasive Species and Politics<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__esnpc.blogspot.com_2014_05_history-2Dand-2Detymology-2Dof-2Dcut-2Dmustard.html&d=DwIF-g&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=q_dANoHyqJOfhx45Ge7PH-vKLSYJUUs1hB6fTLRBoHM&s=vthFGOzdPcVduZTB-HvjvTo4HXumR3yDQJcNMtenJTQ&e=>
A Plague of Locusts; Bad Seeds; Invasive Species; and Politics: The History and Etymology of “Cut the Mustard”  Cut the Mustar...



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