Expression: (As) keen as mustard

In this episode of Aussie English I teach you guys what the expression (AS) KEEN AS MUSTARD means as well as how and when to use it.

Expression: (As) keen as mustard

G’day guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.

Today’s an Expression episode and the expression is to be “As keen as mustard” or to be “Keen as mustard”. So, to be “As keen as mustard” or to be “Keen as mustard”. And sometimes there we just drop that first “As” for some reason in English we often chop things out and that’s just one example where you can say the first “As keen as mustard” or you could just say it without it, “Keen as mustard”.

So, this expression comes from Trista who sent me a message on Facebook and asked me if I could do an episode on this expression and explain what it means and how to use it. So, the definition of the phrase “As keen as mustard” or “Keen as mustard” means to be very enthusiastic, to be very eager and interested in everything. So, to be very keen in general. And, any time you see something like phrase that’s in the structure of “As keen as… something” it’s just going to mean that something is incredibly keen. And this goes for most if not all phrases where you have “As… something… as…” in the phrase. It’s… it doesn’t matter whether or not you understand the very last word that it’s being compared to. It could be “As keen as… anything”. The main point here is that something is just very keen or very whatever the word is between “As… something… as…”. That was probably a bit confusing but hopefully you get the idea.

So, let’s go through and define the two words in this sentence that you may not know. “Keen”, “Keen” just means having or showing eagerness or enthusiasm. So, you could be a keen footballer, which means you just really like football. You could be a keen surfer. You really like surfing. So, you could be really keen to go surfing, which means you’re really eager to go surfing. You could be keen to go see the football. You could be really eager or enthusiastic about going to see the football. So, that’s what the word “Keen” means.

“Mustard”, “Mustard is a type of sauce. So, it’s a hot tasting yellow or brown paste or sauce made from the crushed seeds of certain plants. And it’s typically eaten with meat or used as a cooking ingredient. And this is the kind of thing that you’ll see from time to time in Australia. It’s not very popular. In Australia tomato sauce is actually quite a lot more popular than mustard. And the equivalent of tomato sauce in the US, for example, would be ketchup, but in the US you’ll have mustard everywhere, especially when you watch people buy hotdogs on TV shows or in Movies, especially in places like New York. When they get a hotdog quite often you’ll see them put mustard on it, and the mustard is in that yellow sauce bottle that people will use. That’s the mustard.

So, this phrase is actually quite old and originates from the 1600s. Mustard, obviously, has been eaten and used in cooking for a very long time, and it was an essential accompaniment to beef. So, it would often be eaten with beef or served with beef. And, it became associated with vigour and enthusiasm because it added zest and flavour to beef when it was served.

So, I’ll run you guys through some examples of how and when you might hear “As keen as mustard” or “Keen as mustard”.

So, for example number one, imagine someone just got a new job somewhere and it was the job that they always wanted. So, you could say it was their dream job. And they’re going to get paid really well. They get to work in an amazing company with amazing people. But on the first day that they start their new boss tells them that part of their job is going to be something relatively unpleasant, and it’s going to involve cleaning the toilets every day. So, you could say that, “You were keen as mustard to begin your new job until you learned that you had to clean the toilets.” So, “You were as keen as mustard. You were incredibly enthusiastic and eager to start the job. You were as keen as mustard until you realised that you were going to have to clean toilets”.

So, example number two, imagine that you are a football player, a footy player you’re footy mad. You love the game and everything to do with the game of football. You’ve been playing since you were young. You’ve been thinking about it every single day, literally day living it day in day out every single day. You grow up playing on amazing teams as a young kid and all throughout high school and then when you finish high school, when you graduate, you get drafted to your favourite team in the AFL, in the Australian Football League, the AFL. So, when the first game starts and you’re about to run on the field for the very first time you could say, “I’m as keen as mustard to get onto the field and play footy and represent my team”. “I’ve always wanted to do this. I am keen as mustard to play!”.

Example number three, say you know someone who’s a single person, a single man, you know, he doesn’t have a girlfriend but he’s looking for a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and maybe ultimately a wife or a husband. So, you try and help this person meet some new ladies or some new guys and you ask them to parties, you ask them to come over to your house. And say you’ve organised a pretty casual event where you guys are just having dinner and watching some TV, and your friend who’s single and looking for a partner shows up but he’s dressed in a suit and he’s holding a bunch of flowers and holding some chocolates. And so, you could open the door and see this, you could see him in the suit holding flowers with chocolates and you could say, “Jesus mate! You’re as keen as mustard, aren’t you?”. So, it’s that kind of “Wow dude! You’re incredibly keen. You’re clearly very eager, you’re clearly very enthusiastic. It was meant to be casual but wow, you’re as keen as mustard!”.

And the last example could be that you are a keen surfer. You absolutely love surfing. Your friends and you want to go out surfing this weekend, but say it’s Friday and you’re going to go out surfing tomorrow on Saturday. Your mates show up on Saturday morning and after they’ve shown up, knocked on the door, come inside, you’re like “Well I’m already ready. All my stuff’s in the car. It’s packed. Let’s go!”. They could say, “Wow! Jesus man! We only just arrived. You’re as keen as mustard!”. So, you could say that “You were as keen as mustard to go surfing” and it’s that kind of idea of, you know, you’re already prepared. You’re incredibly eager. You’re incredibly enthusiastic. Everything’s set up. The other guys just wanted to kind of relax and eventually get to the beach but you were incredibly keen to do it straight away. “You were as keen as mustard”.

So, that’s really all there is to this phrase “As keen as mustard” or “Keen as mustard”. I hope that helps Trista. I hope it’s made the sense of this phrase a little bit easier to understand.

So, before we end here guys I might do a listen and repeat exercise, and I’ll run through this twice. I’ll do it at a slower speed first and then I’ll do it at a very natural speaking speed for me as a native.

Listen and repeat: 

I was as keen as mustard.

You were as keen as mustard.

He was as keen as mustard.

She was keen as mustard.

We were as keen as mustard.

They were as keen as mustard.

And so I’ll go through this one more time but I’ll do it at a quicker speed so that anyone who’s finding this exercise a little too easy at the moment can take it up another notch, make it a little bit more difficult.

Listen and repeat:

I was as keen as mustard.

You were as keen as mustard.

He was as keen as mustard.

She was keen as mustard.

We were as keen as mustard.

They were as keen as mustard.

So, that’s it guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. I hope every time that you start listening to Aussie English you’re as keen as mustard to learn English. Anyway, I’ll chat to you soon guys and I wish you all the best. See you later!

 

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