I need a pejorative word for a pupil, who is always having excellent grades at school. He or she would have little or no interest in any of the subjects, nor great understanding, achieving their marks by laborous and mindless cramming.

My intuition is that 'nerd' and 'geek' do not fit the model, 'nerd's being smart and 'geek's particularly interested in a subject. The model I am describing usually applies to at least one pupil in a class.

  • 2
    Maybe consider overachiever or teacher's pet? Neither is exactly right but might be getting there. Suck-up or poser are more generic but might be a little closer. Do you need a word for speaking or a word for writing? Formal or informal? In a literary context, you might be able to make an analogy to a well-known example.
    – Patrick87
    Sep 26, 2014 at 20:09
  • It's not about the student actually liking his studies. It's actually the opposite. It's the difference (roughly) between book knowledge and experience. Or, especially relevant in certification exams where passing is based solely on knowing the questions and answers, not on applied knowledge. "How did he get [random certification]?" He crammed for it. See also cramming versus learning
    – SrJoven
    Sep 26, 2014 at 22:24
  • "Grade Grubber" might have worked for you. My daughter was home schooled until high school and this was one of the first things she learned upon entering organized education. Oct 3, 2015 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


Swot as a slang word. (British slang)

(Offensive Slang) Swot; A person who values his education at least three times more than his social life and his teacher at least three times more than his friends, hypothetically.


a student who studies assiduously, especially to the exclusion of other activities or interests; grind.


Note: Swotter and swat are the variants of the word.

Grind is mentioned as a synonym. (US slang)

There is also keener in Canadian English slang. It can be applied to different contexts.

(Canadian slang, noun) Individual eager to demonstrate knowledge or participate enthusiastically in school, church, seminars, etc. Like nerd, geek, brown-noser, smartypants, etc. but with more emphasis on willingness and enthusiasm, and less on social inadequacy, sycophancy, or natural ability.


  • Interesting, never heard it before. Is it possible this is more common in non-American dialects? Google N-Grams seems to indicate it's about 5-10 times as common in Britain (though still about five times less common than turpentine is there; note that turpentine is about the same in UK vs. American English).
    – Patrick87
    Sep 26, 2014 at 20:24
  • @Patrick87: It is a British slang but gained usage in American slang also.
    – ermanen
    Sep 26, 2014 at 20:27
  • Bonus: bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2011/09/…
    – ermanen
    Sep 26, 2014 at 20:33
  • Teacher's pet is always a good choice. Even though at face value it suggests coöperation on the part of the teacher, it's not necessarily limited to situations where that's the case. (In fact, quite typically insults don't have to be true to be insulting.)
  • Swot and swotter are an option in British English, but not really in the New World.
  • Conversely, grind is used in American English, but not in the UK.
  • Eager beaver is a more obscure one still, and it also has a secondary, sexual meaning. Handle with care.
  • Other, more generic, options include climber, striver, smug, crammer, overachiever, careerist, as well as your own geek and nerd. Will work in some contexts, won't work in all contexts.

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