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    #1

    What does it mean: ’You can’t even dent the mustard’?

    (source: Iceberg Slim- Pimp, the story of mylife)

    The section that contains the sentence:

    ”Preston, I don’t hip to the murder game. I don’t want to get hip to it. I don’t wnat to blow his brains out on that sidewalk and waste them. I want his brains to work inside my skull. You getting old, Preston. You can’t even dent the mustard. He screwed you around a thousand times worse than me. ”

    Background:

    An old friend called Preston gives to Slim a gun and tries to persuade him into killing Sweet Jones (the pimp King of the city) Slim refuses him and thinks that Preston wants to make him do the dirty work instead of him because of an old conflict between Sweet and Preston. Above are the words of Slim refusing Preston.

    So what does ’You can’t even dent the mustard’ mean here?

    Is it a common saying in English?

  1. Grumpy's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What does it mean: ’You can’t even dent the mustard’?

    It's not an expression I have heard before, but I suspect that it is an extension of the saying that "someone [or something] doesn't cut the mustard"; meaning that the person or object is not capable of carrying out the task in question. So Slim is telling Preston that, not only is he not able to cut the mustard, he's not even capable of making a dent in it.

    There's a similar dismissive expression in Br English, saying "You can't even fight your way out of a paper bag".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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    #3

    Re: What does it mean: ’You can’t even dent the mustard’?

    Yes- Preston not only fails to cut the mustard, he can't even make an impression on it. Preston is a total failure.

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