as keen as mustard

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salai

Senior Member
Russian
Hello,

I asked my students to make up sentences with the idioms they are currently studying. Here is one of them:

You can ask Steve to help you, he is always as keen as mustard.

The expreession is 'as keen as mustard'.
The idea is Steve is always keen to help.
Is this expression still in use? I have not come across it often.

Thank you in advance.
 
  • baa7ith

    Senior Member
    US English
    As a native speaker, I have never heard it. Maybe once, it vaguely rings a bell.

    Although, a Google search shows that it is a valid phrase.

    Just saying...as an educated native speaker (who is not a professional linguist or hobbyist, as it seems many people here are)...I had to look up the phrase on Google to know what it means.
     

    ddnz

    New Member
    New Zealand English
    This is an expression that is not unfamiliar to me although I would never use it myself., other than, say, for an ironic effect. I came across it just yesterday in an article on a New Zealand website (http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/blogs/the-omnivore/8289725/An-imperfect-risotto). An American friend of mine said she had never heard it and that the only meaning of the word "keen" she knew of was the name of a brand of shoes!


    << The relevant sentence begins: "Under normal circumstances, I would be keen as mustard [to go to a Japanese restaurant]." >>
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I have never once heard that idiom. That's not to say it never existed, but it's quite odd.
    I'm quite familiar with the word 'keen', just not "as mustard". They mustard part is what is odd to me.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    An American friend of mine said she had never heard it and that the only meaning of the word "keen" she knew of was the name of a brand of shoes!
    With millions of Americans lurking around the world, one can find gaps in their knowledge about just about anything.

    "Keen" is a perfectly good American English word, regardless of whether it refers to sharpness of a blade or eagerness.

    See, for example, this blog in the New York Times. http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/saban-is-keen-to-explain-process/

    As far as the mustard goes, I've never hear it either, although it appears in various places on the Internet.
     

    Galdorik

    New Member
    French
    Although it is an old discussion, I just thought fit to add an example of this expression, as found in 1984 from George Orwell, as follows (it's the character named Parsons speaking, p79, chapter 5) : "Little beggars, eh ? But as keen as mustard!". Worth mentioning that he is refering to his own naughty children, which adds relevance to Salai's very first post above, in that the expression seems well suited and fitted to young people
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Although it is an old discussion, I just thought fit to add an example of this expression, as found in 1984 from George Orwell, as follows (it's the character named Parsons speaking, p79, chapter 5) : "Little beggars, eh ? But as keen as mustard!". Worth mentioning that he is refering to his own naughty children, which adds relevance to Salai's very first post above, in that the expression seems well suited and fitted to young people
    1984 was written in 1948, and "keen as mustard" certainly seems to have a 1940s feel about it. Having said that, it is a phrase I know, and it is possible that I might use it; in my mind it isn't nearly as dead as some other expressions we get asked about on here.

    However, I don't think it really fits the OP's example (although it depends on what help was being asked for). "Keen as mustard" usually refers to doing things, getting involved and mucking in. It has a bit too much activity associated with it to be an obvious expression to use for someone who is willing to help
     
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