Definition of muster in English:



  • 1Assemble (troops), especially for inspection or in preparation for battle.

    ‘17,000 men had been mustered on Haldon Hill’
    • ‘It hadn't helped that Bad Boy Bobby was now an outlaw - a fugitive rumoured to be mustering the troops in the fearful Deep North.’
    • ‘The King's son Edward escaped from imprisonment at Gloucester, and mustered an army.’
    • ‘But Brutus, having fled to Sardis, mustered his own army to counter this attack.’
    • ‘In that battle, Ahab was scarcely able to muster 7,000 soldiers much less any chariots or horsemen.’
    • ‘Then, when he finally mustered his troops, he discovered that only three had any training for their duties.’
    • ‘I thought that maybe if I got to the city I could muster an army in order to stand and fight.’
    • ‘U.S. soldiers are using the army camp as a training center for the new national army being mustered by the interim administration.’
    • ‘There will be no holding back by Strange, then, when he musters his troops in September.’
    • ‘Even so, when war broke out the British Army could muster only 897,000 men, compared to France's five million.’
    • ‘From his pulpit of Madison's First Baptist Church, he preached to regiments being mustered for the Civil War.’
    • ‘In the Gulf war, the United States first mustered an overwhelming force, prepared a multinational coalition, achieved militarily decisive results and got out quickly.’
    • ‘Despite several prominent speakers it mustered a mass army of fifty.’
    • ‘The present Duke of Atholl, like his ancestors before him, has the rare right of being able to muster his own private army, the Atholl Highlanders.’
    • ‘It was universally accepted that an army should be mustered to crush the rebellion, but there was no agreement about entrusting the king with the command.’
    • ‘This gave Louis time to muster an army, and on 22 May 1216, he landed at Sandwich.’
    • ‘Italy, like Britain, is mustering its troops for a possible war in Iraq.’
    • ‘The popular conscript army mustered by revolutionary France would demonstrate its superiority over the state commission style, but its abilities were not immediately apparent.’
    • ‘By the time the scattered troops were mustered, the enemy was already returning home and had to be ambushed in passing while laden with plunder.’
    assemble, bring together, call together, marshal, mobilize, rally, round up, raise, summon, gather, gather together, mass, collect, convene, call up, call to arms, recruit, conscript, draft
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of troops) gather for inspection or in preparation for battle.
      ‘the cavalrymen mustered beside the other regiments’
      • ‘I knew the military would take another 24 hours to muster so we decided to fight.’
      • ‘In the back was a parking lot and a training field where the diverse and loyal platoons mustered and marched, and where prospective recruits would train to become a National Guardsman.’
      • ‘The royal guard will muster to receive their instructions immediately after battle practice in the museum gardens at 12 noon.’
      • ‘The army mustered on 11 March 1296 and the long peace was over.’
      • ‘Albanian troops muster at the Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana before embarking for Iraq.’
      • ‘People, especially refugees from the Maine frontier, were all too well accustomed to the sounds of trumpets summoning militiamen to battle, and to the sight of forces mustering to oppose the enemy.’
      • ‘During the mobilization of any Army organization, all personnel are required to muster at a designated site.’
      • ‘By now, the immediate surroundings were quiet, most of the troops had mustered at the south side of camp in preparation to spring the trap that had been laid.’
      • ‘Cameron added: ‘It may also have been a gathering place where the troops mustered, or where they waited before going into battle.’’
      gather, gather together, assemble, collect, mass, amass, call together, draw up, line up, align, array, organize, group, put in order, set in order, put into position, set into position, arrange, deploy, position, order
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2no object (of a group of people) gather together.
      ‘reporters mustered outside her house’
      • ‘We mustered in small groups in the hall, talking quietly.’
      • ‘Outside, the crew are mustering for the day's shoot.’
      • ‘We muster outside the building which is bright enough to be a beacon.’
      • ‘They mustered, marched on Broadcasting House and, oddly, won.’
      • ‘On 21 April hundreds of officers mustered ominously outside Gaza Central Prison in defense of their old commanders rather than the new ones.’
      congregate, assemble, gather together, come together, meet, collect together, convene, mass, cluster together, flock together, rally
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Australian, NZ Round up (livestock)
      ‘my father needed help with mustering sheep’
      • ‘It was a minor problem and didn't take long to repair, but while I was in the process of fixing it, another fella asked if I would give him a hand to muster some sheep.’
      • ‘How lonely and worrying it must have been when John was away for days and weeks at a time, mustering wild cattle in country as dangerous as it gets for horses and men.’
      • ‘One television cameraman reportedly walked up a dry river-bed to snatch images of Harry mustering cattle.’
      • ‘Frequently, on sheep and cattle stations, they could live on their own country, visit sites and care for them at the same time as they mustered stock or undertook droving treks.’
      • ‘If we're mustering cattle along the river, we'd never take water or anything like that but that's all changed now.’
  • 2Collect or assemble (a number or amount)

    ‘he could fail to muster a majority’
    • ‘As things stand, a presidential candidate must be able to muster a certain number of supporters.’
    • ‘The state's Police Minister simply couldn't muster the numbers.’
    • ‘Before the war, the Prime Minister could barely muster a majority of public opinion in favour of action.’
    • ‘That's what happened last November as the Senate failed to muster enough votes to pass compromise energy legislation in 2002.’
    • ‘He'll need to muster a turnout great enough to give the poll legitimacy.’
    • ‘However, in the second half, they could only muster one point to their tally and this statistic was the one that cost them dearly in the end.’
    • ‘They still failed to muster a single telling shot in the entire first half, but they kept Waterford at arms length without too much difficulty.’
    • ‘America remains outwardly confident about finally mustering the numbers, but in the end it will make little difference.’
    • ‘If we can muster 61 votes in this House, we can oust a judge, under the present system.’
    • ‘Even the two wings added together could muster only 170 MPs.’
    • ‘Having decided to seek a second resolution, why couldn't the United States even muster a majority of votes?’
    • ‘It is not clear whether the government, which does not have majority in the Senate, will be able to muster enough upper house votes to pass the legislation.’
    • ‘Caring whether the media respects us is part of why the other side is able to muster a majority in a country that doesn't want its policies.’
    • ‘A decade later, a Constitutional amendment was again put to a vote, but the Senate failed to muster a two-thirds majority.’
    • ‘Despite having only 53 seats out of 120, it has successfully mustered a majority for most of its legislation by turning to a number of parties for support.’
    • ‘Republicans have failed to muster the 60 votes needed to force a vote on the bill, which has passed the House of Representatives three times.’
    • ‘If any other group in Waterford could muster that number of votes, they would be listened to tomorrow morning!’
    • ‘And in the first quarter of the present financial year, they have together mustered 53 of the 579 new recruits required of them by next April.’
    • ‘Even if this House were to muster enough votes to put the committee together on this basis, we will not be there.’
    • ‘The Senate formally debated the measure this week, but, yesterday, failed to muster sufficient votes to bring it to the floor for a vote.’
    1. 2.1 Summon up (a feeling, attitude, or response)
      ‘he replied with as much dignity as he could muster’
      ‘I finally mustered up the courage to call them’
      • ‘Theatre is never as gratifying to watch as it is to perform, so it's only natural that I am unable to muster the same excitement over this play as the actors.’
      • ‘He pulled his shoulder back and hit Nathan in the face with as much strength as he could muster in his current position.’
      • ‘However, she could not muster a good response, and so remained silent and persistent.’
      • ‘I didn't even give him a chance to muster a response to what I said.’
      • ‘But I usually cannot muster enough interest to stick with any of these media for more than fifteen minutes at a time.’
      • ‘She musters some mercy for me, suggesting for my friend's wife to show her the house, patting my shoulder as she moves from the table.’
      • ‘But, that being so, it would be heartening if the rest of the world could muster a serious response to the guy.’
      • ‘‘Its nice to meet you,’ I replied trying to muster a small, polite smile.’
      • ‘Although the arguments sounded the same, no one could muster the passion from the old days.’
      • ‘I've tried, but I just can't muster any enthusiasm at all.’
      • ‘I just can't muster the enthusiasm for it that I used to have.’
      • ‘He could muster no answer except that perhaps his eyes had minds of their own.’
      • ‘Try as he might, he could not hold back the contempt he felt as he mustered a reply.’
      • ‘I am no longer able to muster enthusiasm for supporting an international team playing this way.’
      • ‘If you can't muster utter confidence, pretend you can.’
      • ‘It's hard enough to muster the confidence to attempt to even talk to an older girl, let alone kiss one.’
      • ‘Even those who despised his politics found it difficult to muster hatred for the man.’
      • ‘I find it hard to muster the sympathy within myself to understand his plight.’
      • ‘So I will try to muster some sympathy for the man, and hopefully get back to enjoying the talents that made him so engaging in the first place.’
      • ‘I pick my jaw up off the floor and muster my reply, which I hope is a carbon copy of his quiet smile.’
      summon up, summon, screw up, gather together, call up, rally
      View synonyms


  • 1A formal gathering of troops, especially for inspection, display, or exercise.

    ‘he attended the musters, which were called to train all able-bodied men’
    mass noun ‘a meeting was held to fix the times and places of muster’
    • ‘A healthier outlet for these energies was required, and pumping contests became popular events at picnics, holiday parades, county fairs, and militia musters.’
    • ‘But these guns were supposed to be used only at musters and during emergencies.’
    • ‘Obligated militiamen were required to arm and equip themselves, and take part in occasional musters and training sessions.’
    • ‘Bacon led a large force against the Susquehanna, but the vast majority of his troops had little interest in any military activity beyond the alcohol which accompanied their musters.’
    • ‘If one had ‘the common defense of the nation’ in mind when he came to view such musters, it was quickly dispelled as the day turned from muster to picnic to drunken brawl in rather too rapid succession.’
    • ‘At several musters the troops held contests, running and wrestling but not shooting.’
    • ‘The proprietors ordered the first governor to organize the militia with musters weekly or monthly.’
    • ‘Still with respect for his age, he was excused most drills, musters and watchkeeping.’
    • ‘In essence, if a soldier was not present during muster, he could likely be counted as a casualty.’
    roll call, assembly, rally, meeting, round-up, convocation, mobilization, gathering, assemblage, congregation, convention
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1
      short for muster roll
      • ‘That omission has been put right by Mr Pappalardo, who has ploughed through the ships' musters - the individual records of pay to members of all 33 ships' companies are held at Kew.’
      • ‘However, she refers to the muster for a boat called Queen, 74 guns, with a ship's complement just of 300 men.’
      • ‘Reports on their muster fluctuated between four thousand and eight thousand warriors.’
      • ‘In addition, a muster also registers whether the sailor was either ‘pressed’ or volunteered and whether he was discharged or reserved.’
    2. 1.2Australian, NZ A rounding up of livestock.
      ‘a cattle muster’
      • ‘Will does a muster and - so rugged is this country - finds they've actually got 7000 cattle.’
      • ‘Strangers are usually discovered at the annual muster for shearing, sorted into a separate pen in the yards where they await collection.’
    3. 1.3Australian informal The number of people attending a meeting.
  • 2rare A group of peacocks.

    ‘the sound was like the cry of a muster of peacocks’
    • ‘Caroline visits a Hampshire garden where the 102 acres include the soothing sound of streams, a Japanese garden, and a muster of peacocks.’
    • ‘She looked lovingly at the muster of peacocks and gushed, beguilingly: “Aren't they beautiful!”’
    • ‘There is another muster of peacocks living not far from me.’
    • ‘On my arrival at the wildlife conservation center, I was greeted by a muster of peacocks and peahens.’
    • ‘A muster of peacocks sang out an alarm call and all the deer around the lake ran for cover.’


  • pass muster

    • Be accepted as adequate or satisfactory.

      ‘this manifesto would not pass muster with the voters’
      • ‘The debate lasted nine hours and, in the end, the plan passed muster by only a single vote - 57 to 56.’
      • ‘A couple of her other relatives did manage a brief visit and the house passed muster nicely.’
      • ‘Michael's beef olives also passed muster, judging by the satisfied silence from across the table.’
      • ‘Many strongly believe he didn't pass muster at either!’
      • ‘The whole combination managed to stay on the right side of blandness, however, and just about passed muster.’
      • ‘He knew the treaty would never pass muster with the Senate.’
      • ‘But, to me, that explanation doesn't even come close to passing muster.’
      • ‘Both reckoned this place comfortably passes muster and represents good value.’
      • ‘Still, despite his reservations, his verdict was that it just about passed muster.’
      • ‘Secondly, in spite of a fair degree of hype, it is highly improbable that there will be any sanctions or counter-measures against those countries that fail to pass muster.’
      be good enough, come up to standard, come up to scratch, measure up, be acceptable, be adequate, be sufficient, fill the bill, fit the bill, do, qualify
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • muster someone in (or out)

    • Enrol someone into (or discharge someone from) military service.

      ‘soon after my arrival I got mustered in’
      • ‘He had been mustered out of the army and with his pay, bought a brand new motorcycle.’
      • ‘He enrolled in the service during the Civil War, and after being mustered out prepared to work at a bookbindery in Pennsylvania.’
      • ‘The 54th Massachusetts was mustered out of the army on August 16, 1865, after twenty-six months of service.’
      • ‘Like most of the Continental army, they were mustered out after the war.’
      • ‘After almost three continuous years of war, the 82nd Illinois was mustered out in Washington D.C. on June 9, 1865 and returned to an enthusiastic welcome in Chicago on June 16.’
      • ‘In 1902, Rasmus was mustered out of the Army, ‘to die of malaria,’ he would later say.’
      • ‘The man who had been elected Lender's lieutenant while still in Bloomington left the regiment before he could be mustered in.’
      • ‘The year he was mustered out of the navy, he ran the first of two vitriolic campaigns in California that established his reputation as a man always on the attack.’
      • ‘The 1st Rhode Islanders were 90-day volunteers, so Kady and Robert were mustered out at the end of those three months.’
      • ‘Months later, when he was mustered out of the service, he was wondering what he'd do for a career.’
      enlist, sign up, enrol, engage, take on, round up
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French moustrer (verb), moustre (noun), from Latin monstrare ‘to show’.