In British English the word swot (/swɒt/) means to study or work hard – you might swot for your exams if you’re a swot (someone who works/studies hard). You might also swot up on something. Calling someone a swot, or a little swot, can be a kind of insult, perhaps with undertones of envy or even guilt – you might think that you should really be swotting as well.
According to the OED swot, or swat, is a dialect variant of sweat and originated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey, where William Wallace, a Scottish professor of mathematics, apparently once said, ‘It mades one swot’ (= sweat), and it first appeared in print in 1850.
Other words with the same or similar meanings include to mug up on, to bone up on, and to cram for. Cramming isn’t quite the same as swotting though, as it usually involves trying to fit as much knowledge into your head as you can in a relatively short in preparation for an exam or test. Swotting can mean this, and can also mean doing all the work / study you’re given, and perhaps more than that – i.e. making more effort than strictly necessary – something that some people prefer not to be accused of.
Are there words in American English or other varieties of English with similar connotations to swot?
In French the word for a swot is bachoteur(-euse), and to swot (for an exam) is potasser (un examen) – do these have any of the connotations of swot?