Posted by David FG on May 28, 2005
In Reply to: Keen as mustard posted by Gary on May 27, 2005
: : I noticed someone asking about the origin of the phrase "as keen as mustard". I had always guessed it was a brand name and today found a piece of information that seems to confirm this: England's modern centre, Norwich, only joined the club in the 19th century, when Jeremiah Colman switched from grinding flour to mustard seeds. In 1903 he acquired the London mustard-makers, Keen, the company which supplied the city's chop and ale houses, and whose name inspired the phrase 'As keen as mustard'
: Nice theory, and I used to believe that myself. Unfortunately it's not correct. Keen (and we have this from Kevin Keen, who is of that family) started making mustard in 1742. There are numerous citations of the phrase in print from more than a century earlier.
Surely 'keen' means 'sharp' as in 'a keen blade'; the meaning of the phrase doesn't strike me as being mysterious - or am I being simplistic?
See 'As keen as mustard' - meaning and origin.