Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweat v.2

1. to suffer, esp. in the context of an interrogation.

[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Coxcomb II i: If she speak longer, I shall be a knave, / As rank as ever sweat for’t.
[UK]Dryden Sir Martin Mar-all V i: How I sweat for him! he’s remembering ever since he was born.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 113/1: I should like to make that hound ‘sweat’ a bit, blast him.
[US]M. Curtiss Letters Home (1944) 29 Oct. 15: I got the worse scare of my life [...] Oh, did I sweat!
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 25: They made me sweat some, but I finally gets them to break it down to grand theft.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 77: And if I wind up sweating another day in the slam, so what, huh?
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Where I Get My Weird Shit’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 37: A store cop detained me for shoplifting. My dad had a heart attack as I sweated custody.

2. to put someone, esp. a prisoner, under pressure.

[UK]Smollett Roderick Random (1979) 273: At length it was proposed to Bragwell that we should scour the hundreds, sweat the constable, maul the watch, and then reel soberly to bed.
[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 214: Pipes [...] attacked him with his cudgel, and sweating him from one end of the street to the other, at last committed him to the guet.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 33: The parrot has been sweated by Detective Tobasco but stolidly maintains that he [...] knows nothing.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Disposal of a Dog’ Benno and Some of the Push 137: Fer months past he’s bin makin’ hisself particularly objectionable to Odgson’s people, runnin’ steeplechases with the hens, [...] sweatin’ the famb’ly cat.
Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/2: Crook Chatter [...] ‘We were recently “tapping” a crook [...] The third degree or sweating process is “tapping”’.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 207: I wasn’t taken out of my cell and ‘sweated’ or third-degreed, or beaten up.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 186: sweat.– [...] to give the third degree.
[US]L. Berg Prison Nurse (1964) 50: The detectives ‘sweated’ me at the station.
[US]J. Archibald ‘Bird Cagey’ Popular Detective Jan. [Internet] I got the guy who bumped off Drupe now. We’ll sweat him dry an’ make him tell where he buried the remains.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 168: If I leave him here you’ll be sweating him.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 86: You sweated that kid until he didn’t know his ass from an adding machine.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 820: sweat – To give the third degree.
[US]G. Swarthout Skeletons 235: Have him grill hell out of one named Harley. Really sweat him. He gave me a speeding ticket.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 50: sweatin’ [...] To hassle. ‘You always be sweatin’ me. Why you be sweatin’ me?’.
[US]Ice-T ‘The Tower’ [lyrics] A fool tried to sweat me, actin’ like he was hard.
[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] quit sweatin’ me Definition: A command of termination. Example: Yo Mr. IRS, I told you to quit sweatin’ me about my income taxes!
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 158: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Catchin feelins. Sweatin me. Feelin you. Funny actin.
[US]Burns & Pelecanos ‘That’s Got His Own’ Wire ser. 4 ep. 12 [TV script] I sweated him, you know.He wasn’t tryin’ to scheme me.
[Aus]C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] Lucie wanted to throw him in the can and sweat him.

3. to intimidate; thus sweating n.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Sweating was also a diversion practised by the bloods of the last century, who styled themselves Mohocks: these gentlemen lay in wait to surprise some person late in the night, when surrounding him, they with their swords pricked him in the posteriors, which obliged him to be constantly turning round; this they continued till they thought him sufficiently sweated.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

4. to work very hard; also reflexive; thus sweating den n., a synon. for sweat-shop.

[[UK]Massinger Emperour of the East IV i: Scorne a poore Countryman! we zweat at the Plough].
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Californian 18 Mar. n.p.: Dick Stoker [...] sweated over her [i.e. a demanding book], and cussed over her.
[UK]Reynold’s Newspaper 29 July n.p.: [cartoon caption] Sweating Den.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 29 July 3/1: The objects of the party are to trade in goods made by the sweating Jews of [...] Petticoat Lane.
[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 26: Maurice sweats over parchments in the Temple.
[US]J. London People of the Abyss 47: A man of twenty-eight who eked out a precarious existence in a sweating den. [Ibid.] 48: The seventh room [...] was the den in which five men ‘sweated.’ It was seven feet wide by eight long, and the table at which the work was performed took up the major portion of the space.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 34: A game [...] in which I get whopped for slacking when I’ve simply sweated.
[UK]‘J.H. Ross’ Mint (1955) 45: You’re silly cunts, you rookies, to sweat yourselves.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 164: If the woman was sweating the Stray, it was her look-out.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 17: We don’t have to sweat for it any more.
[SA]R. Rive ‘Rain’ in Malan (1994) 15: Solly sweating to deal with the after-cinema rush.
[UK](con. 1951) P. Bailey Eng. Madam 67: Your be in your glory if you thought I’d be swetting at work thats one thing I shal’nt do.
[US]N. George ‘CPT Time’ in Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos (1994) 60: A football hero sweating his SAT score.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 2 Dec. 8: Sweating my way through Dante in the original.

5. to make someone (occas. something) work hard; thus sweated adj., overworked.

[UK]Contemp. Rev. lvi 880: It is possible that several of the minor industries of the East End are absolutely dependent upon the fact that a low type of sweated and overworked labour is employed at starvation wages [F&H].
[UK]East London Obs. 30 June 3: The evils of the sweating system [...] Miss Annie Besant made a [...] speech condemnatory of sweating.
[UK]Sporting Times 29 Mar. 1/1: The same goods tendered for at a lower price by a firm that ‘sweats’ its men they will not accept.
[US]N. Algren ‘If You Must Use Profanity’ in Texas Stories (1995) 53: Put th’ sons-o’-bitches t’ work — that’s the idee — sweat th’ bastards.
[UK]K. Amis letter 19 Apr. in Leader (2000) 715: Writers, being important people who make a unique contribution to society, must not be sweated.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] It wasn’t unusual for dudes locked up to sweat the phone, whether it be for money, their lawyer or a girl.

6. to travel with difficulty.

[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 91: You don’t mean to say you’re going to sweat out to Clapham again?

7. (orig. US, also sweat on) to worry about, to take trouble over; thus don’t sweat it

implied in sweat on the top line
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 186: sweat.–To worry.
[US]R. Chandler High Window 148: Breeze poked a cigar at me. ‘Watch him sweat,’ he said.
[UK]Oh Boy! No. 19 2: Anyway, no use sweating on it.
[US]D. Dee Golden Betty 10: He had innocently paid six months rent in advance, so he didn’t have to sweat a roof for awhile.
[US]M. Frost [title] Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 79: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 108: Darlene is sweating on her old man behaving himself but Blind Freddie can see what's going to happen.
[UK]Guardian 3 July 22: Don’t sweat the millenium. It’s going to be a major flop.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 138: ‘I better roll it up before Strunk goes nuts.’ ‘Don’t sweat that fat-ass punk!’.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 45: The Flynn boys didn’t sweat it. They figured if their father‘s juice wouldn’t get them out of the jam, a word or two from their father’s drinking buddy [...] would.

8. to wait for.

[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 348: Sweating. In a state of suspension. If a soldier expected furlough very shortly he would describe himself as ‘sweating on leave’.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 13: ‘You sweatin’ the line, Tommy?’ I said, sure, I was waiting for the line to open.

9. (US black) to proposition.

[US]Dr Dre ‘Housewife’ [lyrics] She sweatin me, won’t let me, broad turned fraud / Now she on this dick huh, got her turnin tricks huh.

10. (US black) to get involved in someone’s business, to harass.

[US]Lerner et al. Dict. of Today’s Words 172: Sweat – to bother (someone); hassle.
[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] sweat Definition: 1. to get involved in someones business. [...] Example: Why you sweatin’ me ‘G’.

11. (US black) to be obsessed with someone to the extent of sweating in their presence; to like something very much.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Dec.
[US]50 Cent ‘Wanksta’ [lyrics] Now shorty think Ima sweat her, sipping on a armareda / I’m hit once than dead her, I know I can do betta / She look good but I know she after my chedda.

12. (US prison) to cause trouble for, to annoy.

[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 51: Don’t sweat me!
[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 22: I was ju-just getting it when the con started sweating me, giving me shit, slow-playing.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 18: But you didn’t really have to sweat me, you have it on video, right?

13. to enthuse over (to an excessive extent), to flirt eagerly.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 5: sweat – make an effort to attract a person of the opposite sex: ‘Jack was sweating Jill last night at the club’.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 226: I can’t wait to be taking her to my mother’s block, everybody be sweating her.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 15: SWEAT — be sexually attracted to: X: ‘That girl keeps looking at you.’ Y: ‘She’s sweating’.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

don’t sweat it

(orig. US black) don’t worry.

[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 36: He reached over and squeezed Armando’s arm. ‘Don’t sweat it.’.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 12: don’t sweat it – Don’t worry about it; you’re making a big deal over something which isn’t worth the energy.
[US]D. Pendleton Executioner (1973) 98: We’ll have this Bolan on ice. Don’t sweat it.
[US](con. 1950s) Jacobs & Casey Grease I iv: Sandy, don’t sweat it.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 28: ‘Don’t hang me up. You know how fuckin’ undependable you are.’ ‘Don’t sweat it.’.
[US]B. Jackson Killing Time 222: Don’t sweat it Carl Vaughan . . . it’s just the Entire Mentality.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 3: Everything’s chilly; don’t sweat it.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 154: As long as it’s mine [...] I’ll still love it the same. So don’t sweat it alright.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Rosa Marie’s Baby (2013) [ebook] ‘Don’t sweat it, pal’.
let it sweat (v.)

to stop worrying or interfering, to just let things turn out as they will.

[US]Marvin Gaye ‘Trouble Man’ [lyrics] There’s only 3 things for sure: / Taxes, death and trouble / This I know, baby, baby / This I know, baby, baby / Hey now, let it sweat, baby.
neversweat (n.)

1. a lazy person, an idler, one whose job requires little effort [20C+ use is US; note naut. jargon do a never, to shirk, to idle].

[UK]H. Mayhew Great World of London I 44: Cries of [...] ‘Flare up, my never-sweats,’ and a variety of other street sayings.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 419/1: [as cit. 1856].
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Oct. 13/1: [T]he chaser of the elusive reef or lode or gutter is an optimist of the first button. If he wasn’t he would probably make back to the cities by the first balloon and become one of the great army of never-sweats.
[US] ‘The Open Book’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 112: Take the ‘never sweat’ from Nevada, / he’s known as the ‘Son of the Sage’.

2. (Aus.) a loafer, one who makes no effort; thus as nickname, a council worker.

[Aus]Register (Adelaide) 25 Jan. 5/3: At my first visit to Pompoota three men were pointed out to me as a ‘never sweat’ gang.
[Aus]Westralian Worker (Perth, WA) 21 July 2/4: But we must lie about the Australian wage-earner. He must be told he is a loafer and a never-sweat, lest he ask something like his value.
[Aus]Murrumbidgee Irrigator (Leeton, NSW) 28 Sept. 2/3: I have no objection to meet any man in the open, even a ‘Never Sweat’, but I prefer not to engage with a man who shoots from behind a hedge, which is the method af an anonymous writer.
[Aus]T. Davis More Aus. Nicknames 72: Never sweat, a council worker.
sweat bird turds (v.)

(US) to work hard.

[US]D. Pendleton Executioner (1973) 115: Gettin’ lazy. Been about twelve hours since I sweated bird turds.
sweat bricks (v.)

1. to work very hard.

[Ire](con. 1970) G. Moxley Danti-Dan in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) I iii: I’m up there sweating bricks in the mini-market all day to make enough money for my keep.

2. see shit a brick v.

sweat bullets (v.) (US)

1. to worry excessively; to be terrified.

[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 99: Reggie was sweating bullets.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 226: By 11.28 a.m. we were sweating bullets under our masks.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 98: The new kid they’d been supposed to meet at eight would probably be sweating bullets: thinking he’d blown it somehow.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 38: I was sweating bullets. If Peanut caught me, my ass was grass.
[US]S.M. Jones Lives Laid Away [ebook] Tomás even sang at his daughter’s quinceañera and her wedding. Both times had him sweating bullets.

2. to work very hard.

[US]Chapman NDAS.
S.R. Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families 283: I returned to the kitchen table to sweat bullets over home-work.
Carver & James Battlestar Galactica 260: He, Baltar, didn’t have to sweat bullets trying to figure out how to slip the information out.
sweat (it) out (v.) (also sweat it)

1. (orig. US) to endure hardships and difficulties in the hope of achieving solutions or successes in the end; also as n.

[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 107: It might be a good thing if I kind of got off by myself and sweat it out of me.
[US]E. Pyle Here Is Your War (1945) 101: They ‘sweat out’ a mission, or they ‘sweat out’ the weather, or they ‘sweat out’ a promotion. It meant that they waited, or they fought, or did anything hard that took some time.
[UK]G. Gibson Enemy Coast Ahead (1955) 224: My wife had been sweating it out in a factory near London for a long time without any rest.
[US]T. Anderson Your Own Beloved Sons 52: So this is a punishment, is it? [...] How long you gonna sweat it out here?
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 172: The shells struck the house again and again and we sat on the floor [...] and sweated it out.
[US]F. Harvey Strike Command 11: ‘Want to turn and run? [...] Or play a little guts-ball and try for the tankers?’ K. P. Green voted for gutsball. And now the sweatout began.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 31 Jan. in Proud Highway (1997) 437: I am sweating it out.
[US]R.E. Alter Carny Kill (1993) 122: ‘You’re a damn fool if you try to use it.’ ‘Gabby—let me sweat it, will you?’.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 112: It was a calculated risk and Spermwhale sweated it out each time.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 173: The lads would have to sweat it out for a while. And trust Dennis.
[US]T. Willocks Green River Rising 133: He ain’t sweatin’ it on the block like we are.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 33: We sweated it out because we thought we had each other and the future.

2. (US drugs) to withdraw from narcotic addiction.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 231: sweat it out To take the drug cure.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore 176: Sweat it out – To take the drug cure consisting of abrupt, forced abstinence.

3. to worry (about).

[US]E. Hemingway letter 9 Apr. in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 582: She has been sweating both Bumby and me out. She wanted to know about us.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 212: Terry had been sweating out whether or not to smarten him.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 207: Sweat it out Tense at the last minute.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 72: Screw it! Beauchamp could sweat out the bills for once.
[US]S. Frank Get Shorty [film script] The guy’s nervous, in no shape to just sit there, sweat it out. So he gets off the plane .
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 122: He’s sweating it over there in jail, isn’t he?

4. to work out, to elucidate.

[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 159: I’ll sweat them out for you, you’ll win [...] I cant never win myself, but I can sweat winners out for everybody else.
sweat like a nigger (at election) (v.) [nigger n.1 (1)] (US)

to work very hard.

[US]E. Pound in Witemeyer Pound/Williams Correspondence (1996) 36: Precisely I am an ‘enemy of American verse’. [...] I sweated like a nigger to break up the clutch of old shit-wall, Harper’s, etc.
[US]P.G. Brewster ‘Folk “Sayings” From Indiana’ in AS XIV:4 265: Expressions relating to work are [...] ‘working like a nigger,’ ‘working like a dog,’ ‘working like a Turk,’ ‘sweating like a nigger at election’.
sweat (on) (v.)

1. (US) to be near to attaining, to wait for.

[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 49: sweat on (vb.) — Await impatiently.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: sweat on. Eagerly awaiting.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 273: I was sweating on getting married this Whitsun but now I reckon it’s just about mucked up.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 319: I’ll be sweating on you coming out of this hole, Ma.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 28: The screws are sweating on you starting something and they’ve got it all weighed up.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Spare’ in Cockade (1965) I i: To be strictly factual there’s only one thing I’m sweating on.

2. (US campus) to focus on, to stare at.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: sweat – focus attention and energy on something; stare at: ‘I wish that guy over there would quit sweating me’.
sweat on (v.)

see sense 7 above.

sweat one’s arse off (v.) (also sweat one’s ass off, …balls off, ...bollocks off, ...butt off, ...can off, …hide) [arse n. (1)/ass n. (2)/balls n. (1)/bollock n./butt n.1 (1a)/can n.1 (1b)]

to work extremely hard.

[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 533: I’m not going to sweat my can off working and saving just to end up like that.
[US]M. Rand ‘Clip-Joint Chisellers’ in Ten Story Gang Aug. [Internet] Frenchy [...] was just sweating his dirty hide to unload the big gossip to the boss.
[US]E. O’Brien One Way Ticket 75: He sweats his arse off for you.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 321: The thought of marching around all afternoon while they sweated their asses off.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 823: The Company was out in the field sweating their butts off.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 23: Everything the guy sweats his ass off to get.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 31: Sweat their balls off twenty years.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 9: After your considerable dough / which your dad’s sweated his balls off for.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 7: You’ll just have to keep sweating your bollocks off writing them television scripts to pay the maintenance.
[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 69: Who wanted to sweat their balls off for 30 years.
sweat one’s guts out (v.)

see under gut n.

sweat on the top line (v.) (also sweat on Kelly’s Eye) [the ‘lines’ that must be filled in the game of lotto or bingo; bingo use kelly’s eye, number one]

(Aus.) to be within a touch of obtaining what one desires.

[UK]A.G. Empey Over the Top 148: In an imploring voice you call out, ‘Come on, Watkins, chum, I’m sweating on ‘Kelly’s Eye.’.
[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 348: Sweating On The Top Line. Anxious.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 274: Sweating On The Top Line: To be in eager anticipation.
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 196: I didn’t mean to knock your mate – I was sweating on the top line.
sweat out of (v.)

(US) to extract information from someone, usu. by intimidation.

[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 291: The kid was wise; wise to the whole racket – see? But you coulda sweated it outa him. I knowed that.
sweat someone’s style (v.)

(US black) to harass, to bother another person.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 51: sweatin my style To constantly bother, annoy or pick-on another person. ‘Ever time I came by, nigger be sweatin’ my style, I can’t ‘G’ for dat.’.
sweat the fence (v.)

(US prison) to fantasize about escape.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 109: Inmates who contemplate or aspire to escape are referred to as sweatin’ the fence.