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[muhs-ter] /ˈmʌs tər/
verb (used with object)
to assemble (troops, a ship's crew, etc.), as for battle, display, inspection, orders, or discharge.
to gather, summon, rouse (often followed by up):
He mustered all his courage.
verb (used without object)
to assemble for inspection, service, etc., as troops or forces.
to come together; collect; assemble; gather.
an assembling of troops or persons for formal inspection or other purposes.
an assemblage or collection.
the act of mustering.
Also called muster roll. (formerly) a list of the persons enrolled in a military or naval unit.
Verb phrases
muster in, to enlist into service in the armed forces.
muster out, to discharge from service in the armed forces:
He will be mustered out of the army in only two more months.
pass muster,
  1. to pass a cursory inspection.
  2. to measure up to a certain standard; be adequate:
    Your grades don't pass muster.
Origin of muster
1250-1300; Middle English mostren (v.) < Old French mostrer < Latin mōnstrāre to show, derivative of mōnstrum portent; see monster
Related forms
premuster, verb (used with object)
unmustered, adjective
Can be confused
muster, mustard.
1. convoke. 1, 4. convene; congregate. 5. gathering, assembly, convention.
1, 4. scatter, separate.
Synonym Study
1. See gather. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pass muster
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If Kent has his evening togs and you have the black silk you'll pass muster.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The cavalry of the Pheraeans were to pass muster before him.

    Hellenica Xenophon
  • Now then, let me finish the work, so that you may see whether it will pass muster.

    In the Mahdi's Grasp George Manville Fenn
  • If any one did notice him, he might pass muster as a new boy.

    The Hero of Garside School

    J. Harwood Panting
  • You are in the diplomatic world; your name will pass muster.

    The Music Master

    Charles Klein
  • But its a world where neither I nor my men could pass muster for a moment.

    Under Cover Roi Cooper Megrue
  • I have no doubt but his French will pass muster, twelve miles back of Oshkosh.

    Nasby in Exile David R. Locke
  • And pray, how came you so like the Duchess that you can pass muster for her?

    Joan of the Sword Hand S(amuel) R(utherford) Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for pass muster


to call together (numbers of men) for duty, inspection, etc, or (of men) to assemble in this way
  1. muster in, to enlist into military service
  2. muster out, to discharge from military service
(transitive) (Austral & NZ) to round up (livestock)
(transitive) sometimes foll by up. to summon or gather: to muster one's arguments, to muster up courage
an assembly of military personnel for duty, inspection, etc
a collection, assembly, or gathering
(Austral & NZ) the rounding up of livestock
a flock of peacocks
pass muster, to be acceptable
Word Origin
C14: from old French moustrer, from Latin monstrāre to show, from monstrum portent, omen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pass muster



c.1300, "to display, reveal, appear," from Old French mostrer "appear, show, reveal," also in a military sense (10c., Modern French montrer), from Latin monstrare "to show," from monstrum "omen, sign" (see monster). Meaning "to collect, assemble" is early 15c.; figurative use (of qualities, etc.) is from 1580s. To muster out "gather to be discharged from military service" is 1834, American English. To muster up in the figurative and transferred sense of "gather, summon, marshal" is from 1620s. Related: Mustered; mustering.



late 14c., "action of showing, manifestation," from Old French mostre "illustration, proof; examination, inspection" (13c., Modern French montre), literally "that which is shown," from mostrer (see muster (v.)). Meaning "act of gathering troops" is from c.1400. To pass musters (1570s) originally meant "to undergo military review without censure."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with pass muster

pass muster

Meet a required standard, as in That yard cleanup won't pass muster with Mom. This expression originally meant “to undergo a military review without censure,” muster referring to an assembling of troops for inspection or a similar purpose. [ Late 1500s ]


In addition to the idiom beginning with muster also see: pass muster
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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