Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweat v.2

1. [early 17C; mid-19C+] to suffer, esp. in the context of an interrogation.

2. [mid-18C+] to put someone, esp. a prisoner, under pressure.

3. [late 18C–early 19C] to intimidate; thus sweating n.

4. [late 19C+] to work very hard; also reflexive; thus sweating den n., a synon. for sweat-shop.

5. [late 19C+] to make someone (occas. something) work hard; thus sweated adj., overworked.

6. [1910s] to travel with difficulty.

7. [1920s+] (orig. US, also sweat on) to worry about, to take trouble over; thus don’t sweat it

8. [1920s] to wait for.

9. [1970s+] (US black) to proposition.

10. [1990s+] (US black) to get involved in someone’s business, to harass.

11. [1990s+] (US black) to be obsessed with someone to the extent of sweating in their presence; to like something very much.

12. [1990s+] (US prison) to cause trouble for, to annoy.

13. [1990s+] to enthuse over (to an excessive extent), to flirt eagerly.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

don’t sweat it

[1950s+] (orig. US black) don’t worry.

let it sweat (v.)

[1920s+] to stop worrying or interfering, to just let things turn out as they will.

neversweat (n.)

1. [mid-19C+] 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].

2. [1910s-70s] (Aus.) a loafer, one who makes no effort; thus as nickname, a council worker.

sweat bird turds (v.)

[1960s] (US) to work hard.

sweat bullets (v.) [1950s+] (US)

1. to worry excessively; to be terrified.

2. to work very hard.

sweat for (v.)

[1960s] to need, to be deprived of.

sweat (it) out (v.) (also sweat it)

1. [1920s+] (orig. US) to endure hardships and difficulties in the hope of achieving solutions or successes in the end; also as n.

2. [1940s–50s] (US drugs) to withdraw from narcotic addiction.

3. [1940s+] to worry (about).

4. [1950s] to work out, to elucidate.

sweat like a nigger (at election) (v.) [nigger n.1 (1)] [1900s–50s] (US)

to work very hard.

sweat (on) (v.)

1. [1910s+] (US) to be near to attaining, to wait for.

2. [1990s+] (US campus) to focus on, to stare at.

sweat on (v.)

see sense 7 above.

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]

[1910s+] (Aus.) to be within a touch of obtaining what one desires.

sweat out of (v.)

[late 19C+] (US) to extract information from someone, usu. by intimidation.

sweat someone’s style (v.)

[1980s] (US black) to harass, to bother another person.

sweat the fence (v.)

[1990s+] (US prison) to fantasize about escape.

sweat up (v.)

[1910s] to learn, to commit to memory.