How can the process of studying something intensively be described in one word?

The closest I can think of is cramming, but that has connotations of not actually caring about the subject in question, trying to do the least sufficient amount of work. Even though most people indeed tend to study hard in this fashion, it is also possible to be deeply interested in the subject, striving to understand and internalize all the details.


The amount of knowledge that had become available to him was astounding, and he spent almost all of his free time [studying hard] in the university library.

  • hard-study?....
    – Drew
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:15
  • If he spent almost all his free time studying, that context implies that he was studying hard.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 21, 2017 at 23:41
  • 1
    Too late in my time zone to write an answer, but I suggest "delve into". "She spent hours in the library delving into the latest research on CRISPR."
    – ab2
    Sep 22, 2017 at 3:26
  • @ab2 please do write that answer, I'm probably going to accept it. Sep 27, 2017 at 16:55

7 Answers 7


A term that common for learning a new language, but could be used for any field of study, is immerse:

he immersed himself in [or into] his studies


he immersed himself in the library books

Oxford Dictionaries:

    ("immerse oneself" or "be immersed") Involve oneself deeply in a particular activity or interest.
    ‘she immersed herself in her work’
    ‘she was still immersed in her thoughts’
American Heritage Dictionary:
    To engage wholly or deeply; absorb: scholars who immerse themselves in their subjects.
Collins English Dictionary:
  • If you immerse yourself in something that you are doing, you become completely involved in it.
    Since then I've lived alone and immersed myself in my career.
    He's really becoming immersed in his work.
  • to involve deeply; engross
    to immerse oneself in a problem
Macmillan Dictionary – immerse yourself in something:
    to spend most of your time doing something or thinking about it
    Sandra immersed herself in work to try and forget her problems at home.

  • I think this is the best answer, actually.
    – jxh
    Sep 22, 2017 at 17:14
  • 'Immerse' is too general, not denoting study. Sep 27, 2017 at 22:17

You can use research to indicate deep study of a topic.

1 :careful or diligent search
2 :studious inquiry or examination; ...
3 :the collecting of information about a particular subject

So in your sentence:

The amount of knowledge that had become available to him was astounding, and he spent almost all of his free time researching in the university library.


There is a British word "swot" that means "to study hard" as a verb, but I believe that it is considered slang in Britain and is definitely an uncommon Briticism in the U.S.

"She pored over her text" means she studied her text hard, but it is not one word and requires an object. He "hit the books" has a similar meaning and similar limitation.

"Lucubrate" does not literally mean "to study hard" but may be used metaphorically to mean "to think or study hard."

  • How do you use that in a sentence? "My mate was swotting last night?" Sep 22, 2017 at 4:33
  • @ Azor-Ahai: I am from the US so the exact nuances of "swot" are not known to me. I have the impression that it conveys the notion of serious and prolonged study, has a derogatory connotation, and is distinguished from "cram." But a native resident of Great Britain would be the best person to ask. Sep 22, 2017 at 19:58

Lucubrate: to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.

Excogitate: to study intently and carefully in order to grasp or comprehend fully.


You can use mug up means to study intensively.


you can use:
laborious (adjective)
nerd (noun/adjective)


The word you are looking for is slog.

For the sake of completion, I googled it and the meaning is, work hard over a period of time. Example: They were slogging to meet the deadline.

In your case,

...he spent almost all of his free time slogging in the university library.

  • At least for me the connotation of slogging is that of slogging through mud.
    – Jim
    Sep 22, 2017 at 4:17
  • I was being facetious. I am quite certain I understand what slogging means.
    – Jim
    Sep 22, 2017 at 5:07
  • @Jim: When someone is 'slogging through the mud' the person is plodding (one's way) perseveringly against difficulty. Sep 22, 2017 at 5:11
  • @Jim: In other words, the person is a going through a spell of difficult, tiring work. Doing a difficult and tiring work is not negative. YMMV. Sep 22, 2017 at 5:14
  • Agreed. And how does that relate to the person in the OP who is greedily soaking up information at every opportunity? Does that sound like persevering against difficulty?
    – Jim
    Sep 22, 2017 at 5:14

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