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 formspre·mus·ter, verb (used with object)un·mus·tered, adjective
Can be confusedmuster mustard

Synonyms for muster

Synonym study

1. See gather.

Antonyms for muster



auxiliary verb

to be obliged or bound to by an imperative requirement: I must keep my word.
to be under the necessity to; need to: Animals must eat to live.
to be required or compelled to, as by the use or threat of force: You must obey the law.
to be compelled to in order to fulfill some need or achieve an aim: We must hurry if we're to arrive on time.
to be forced to, as by convention or the requirements of honesty: I must say, that is a lovely hat.
to be or feel urged to; ought to: I must buy that book.
to be reasonably expected to; is bound to: It must have stopped raining by now. She must be at least 60.
to be inevitably certain to; be compelled by nature: Everyone must die.

verb (used without object)

to be obliged; be compelled: Do I have to go? I must, I suppose.
Archaic. (sometimes used with ellipsis of go, get, or some similar verb readily understood from the context): We must away.


necessary; vital: A raincoat is must clothing in this area.


something necessary, vital, or required: This law is a must.

Origin of must

before 900; Middle English most(e), Old English mōste (past tense); cognate with German musste. See mote2

Synonyms for must

1. Must, ought, should express necessity or duty. Must expresses necessity or compulsion: I must attend to those patients first. Soldiers must obey orders. Ought (weaker than must ) expresses obligation, duty, desirability: You ought to tell your mother. Should expresses obligation, expectation, or probability: You are not behaving as you should. Children should be taught to speak the truth. They should arrive at one o'clock. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for muster

Contemporary Examples of muster

Historical Examples of muster

  • For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America.

  • And yet in the end Pop was able to muster a fairly good imitation of a frown.

  • He also thought it good policy to display all the assurance he could muster.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Kirkwood acceded, perforce; and bided his time with what tolerance he could muster.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • He did what he could to muster a smile, and returned, 'Your fancy.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for muster



to call together (numbers of men) for duty, inspection, etc, or (of men) to assemble in this way
  1. muster into enlist into military service
  2. muster outto discharge from military service
(tr) Australian and NZ to round up (livestock)
(tr sometimes foll by up) to summon or gatherto muster one's arguments; to muster up courage


an assembly of military personnel for duty, inspection, etc
a collection, assembly, or gathering
Australian and NZ the rounding up of livestock
a flock of peacocks
pass muster to be acceptable

Word Origin for muster

C14: from old French moustrer, from Latin monstrāre to show, from monstrum portent, omen



verb (takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive)

used as an auxiliary to express obligation or compulsion: you must pay your dues . In this sense, must does not form a negative. If used with a negative infinitive it indicates obligatory prohibition
used as an auxiliary to indicate necessityI must go to the bank tomorrow
used as an auxiliary to indicate the probable correctness of a statementhe must be there by now
used as an auxiliary to indicate inevitabilityall good things must come to an end
(used as an auxiliary to express resolution)
  1. on the part of the speaker when used with I or weI must finish this
  2. on the part of another or others as imputed to them by the speaker, when used with you, he, she, they, etclet him get drunk if he must
(used emphatically) used as an auxiliary to express conviction or certainty on the part of the speakerhe must have reached the town by now, surely; you must be joking
(foll by away) used with an implied verb of motion to express compelling hasteI must away


an essential or necessary thingstrong shoes are a must for hill walking

Word Origin for must

Old English mōste past tense of mōtan to be allowed, be obliged to; related to Old Saxon mōtan, Old High German muozan, German müssen




mustiness or mould

Word Origin for must

C17: back formation from musty




the newly pressed juice of grapes or other fruit ready for fermentation

Word Origin for must

Old English, from Latin mustum new wine, must, from mustus (adj) newborn




a variant spelling of musth
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

Word Origin and History for 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."



Old English moste, past tense of motan "have to, be able to," from Proto-Germanic *mot- "ability, leisure (to do something)" (cf. Old Saxon motan "to be obliged to, have to," Old Frisian mota, Middle Low German moten, Dutch moeten, German müssen "to be obliged to," Gothic gamotan "to have room to, to be able to"), perhaps from PIE root *med- "to measure, to take appropriate measures" (see medical (adj.)). Used as present tense from c.1300, from the custom of using past subjunctive as a moderate or polite form of the present.



"new wine," Old English must, from Latin mustum (also source of Old High German, German most, Old French moust, Modern French moût, Spanish, Italian mosto), short for vinum mustum "fresh wine," neuter of mustus "fresh, new, newborn," perhaps literally "wet," and from PIE *mus-to-, from root *meus- "damp" (see moss).



"mold," c.1600, perhaps a back-formation of musty (q.v.).



"male elephant frenzy," 1871, from Urdu mast "intoxicated, in rut," from Persian mast, literally "intoxicated," related to Sanskrit matta- "drunk, intoxicated," past participle of madati "boils, bubbles, gets drunk," from PIE root *mad- "wet, moist" (see mast (n.2)).



"that which has to be done, seen, or experienced," 1892, from must (v.). As an adjective, "obligatory, indispensable," by 1912, from the noun; must-read is from 1959.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with muster


In addition to the idiom beginning with muster

  • muster in

also see:

  • pass muster


see a must; show must go on.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.