I was reading in Wall Street Journal that says:

..., the company BlackBerry just doesn't cut it anymore.

What does the phrase mean?


Take at look at this list of idioms, and observe the entry for "cut the mustard."

Figurative use of "mustard" as a positive superlative dates from 1659 in the phrase "keen as mustard", and use of "cut" to denote rank (as in "a cut above") dates from the 18th century.

The term "mustard" here may be a corruption of "muster," or ability to accomplish a task - suitability (viz: to pass muster).

Ergo, it's quite likely that the expression in question has ellided the word "mustard," as "to cut it" is now a standalone idiom in its own right. As snumpy notes above, the meaning is that "The Blackberry is no longer good enough for general business users."

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    There is also of course the phrase make the cut, meaning to be assessed as reaching some 'cut-off' point below which you'd consider yourself to have failed the assessment. Quite possibly also derived from "muster" (which I'm inclined to agree was probably corrupted into "mustard"). – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '11 at 16:28
  • Yes, I note the possible connection with "muster" in my answer above. The dates all work out. "Making the cut" - and the negative, "failed to make the cut" - seems to be entirely unrelated. Agree? – The Raven Jun 6 '11 at 19:07
  • I really don't know, but I lean to the idea that make the cut and cut the mustard [muster] are in fact related, through that sense of 'rank' or 'pass level'. And that keen as mustard, cut a fine figure, etc., may not really be part of that etymological pathway. Some more research or a more knowledgeable contributor would help. I for one will still be interested in this one for some while to come. – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '11 at 20:08
  • @TheRaven, This answer seems like a stab in the dim. Are there better citations? – Pacerier Jul 3 '15 at 7:16

If something doesn't cut it, it is not sufficient for a task. So you could say:

..., the company BlackBerry is no longer sufficient for its intended task.

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  • I think there's usually the implication that "something else" does "cut it". If our current 'best' antibiotic doesn't cut it with some new deadly bacterial mutation, chances are that's being said by someone proposing an alternative, not bewailing our helplessness. – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '11 at 16:38

The rest of the WSJ article is about issues of employees using personal smartphones with company data, so perhaps the company Blackberry is no longer cutting edge.

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    I'm a bit dubious that "cutting edge" and "cut the mustard" actually share much etymology, but it may be they both help each other gain/retain currency in the modern vernacular. – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '11 at 16:30

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