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[muhs-ter] /ˈmʌs tər/
verb (used with object)
to assemble (troops, a ship's crew, etc.), as for battle, display, inspection, orders, or discharge.
to gather, summon, rouse (often followed by up):
He mustered all his courage.
verb (used without object)
to assemble for inspection, service, etc., as troops or forces.
to come together; collect; assemble; gather.
an assembling of troops or persons for formal inspection or other purposes.
an assemblage or collection.
the act of mustering.
Also called muster roll. (formerly) a list of the persons enrolled in a military or naval unit.
Verb phrases
muster in, to enlist into service in the armed forces.
muster out, to discharge from service in the armed forces:
He will be mustered out of the army in only two more months.
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 forms
premuster, verb (used with object)
unmustered, adjective
Can be confused
muster, mustard.
1. convoke. See gather. 1, 4. convene; congregate. 5. gathering, assembly, convention.
1, 4. scatter, separate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for muster up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What I am chiefly afraid of is that they will muster up there in force, and attempt to overwhelm us with a rush.

    Turned Adrift Harry Collingwood
  • His sister was afraid, but he told her to muster up courage.

  • But the youth could not muster up courage enough to begin his wooing.

    Arne: Early Tales and Sketches Bjornstjerne Bjornson
  • "Let me reckon," said the host, beginning to muster up his arithmetic.

  • Miss Maise had been trying to muster up courage to ask him that very thing, for she did not want him to think too harshly of her.

    Pearl and Periwinkle Anna Graetz
  • But he never could muster up courage enough to put the question.

    Skipper Worse Alexander Lange Kielland
  • We reached here not long before two, and went to work to try and muster up some dinner.

  • "You certainly have more courage than I could muster up," I said.

  • He thought of stopping some of those serious-looking men and asking them if they knew her, but he could not muster up the courage.

    A Michigan Man Elia W. Peattie
British Dictionary definitions for muster up


to call together (numbers of men) for duty, inspection, etc, or (of men) to assemble in this way
  1. muster in, to enlist into military service
  2. muster out, to discharge from military service
(transitive) (Austral & NZ) to round up (livestock)
(transitive) sometimes foll by up. to summon or gather: to muster one's arguments, to muster up courage
an assembly of military personnel for duty, inspection, etc
a collection, assembly, or gathering
(Austral & NZ) the rounding up of livestock
a flock of peacocks
pass muster, to be acceptable
Word Origin
C14: from old French moustrer, from Latin monstrāre to show, from monstrum portent, omen
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
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Word Origin and History for muster up



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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with muster up


In addition to the idiom beginning with muster also see: pass muster
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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