Printable Version
Pronunciation: swaht Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: To study hard, cram (for examinations), to bone up.

Notes: Today's word is for all speakers aside from those who use British English; this is a well-known member of British slang. It is sometimes spelled swat, and may be used to refer to a person who studies hard all the time. The person may be called a swotter, too. This word may also be used as a regular verb: swot, swots, swotting, and swotted "to study hard", which often occurs with the particle up: 'to swot up Shakespeare'.

In Play: As pointed out above, swot is usually accompanied by up: "Professor Snipplethwatch swots up all the latest books in his field, so he won't be left out of the conversations about them in the department." However, this word may be used without the particle: "Justin Case swotted his geography exam all night, but still failed it by a single point, because he figured Bratislava to be the capital of Latvia."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a dialectal variation of sweat. The earliest reported use of the term was by the Scottish professor of mathematics, William Wallace (1768-1843), at the Royal Military College, in Sandhurst. He supposedly said on one occasion, "It makes one swot" (= sweat). The pronunciation of Old English swat "perspiration" apparently never changed in Scottish or the northern dialects of English. PIE sweid- "sweat, to sweat" continued in many Indo-European languages, becoming Danish sved "sweat", Swedish svett, Dutch zweet, German Schweiß among the Germanic languages. Elsewhere it became Sanskrit svedah, Avestan xvaeda-, Greek hidros, Latin sudor, Latvian sviedri, and Welsh chwys—all meaning "sweat". (George Kovac must swot everything he reads to have come up with today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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