In my language, when someone studies and learns something in a perfect way, we say something that literally translates to, "she has swallowed all the material I have taught her". It means she has learnt them and "mastered" them completely.

Is there a similar expression in English that means that you've completely masteredy the stuff/material the teacher has taught you?

Also, is material correct in this context?

  • 2
    Hi welcome to ELU alpacinoutd, master as you say is the word most often used in this way in English. Following along with the eating metaphor, digest is sometimes used for understanding but doesn't have same meaning of mastery that your phrase does. e.g. you could modify digest like this: "you need to really digest the material", but it still doesn't connotate mastery, more that someone needs to really understood the material. Absorb also. .e.g "You need to truly absorb this class material." But again, doesn't really work with out the adjective, and still doesn't mean complete mastery!
    – Gary
    Feb 13, 2020 at 10:47
  • You can use the idiom 'swallowed a dictionary' to mean knowledge a lot of words (usually when someone has used an obscure word), but I don't think that's the same meaning as you are after. Can you not just use master? You should master all the class material ?
    – Smock
    Feb 13, 2020 at 15:07
  • 'Swallow' (other than as used in Smock's fixed expression) is usually used in a negative way: "You expect me to swallow that!?" May 1, 2023 at 15:29

4 Answers 4


To soak up information means, as Cambridge states:

(informal) to understand and remember information well


If somebody eagerly learns something, you can say they "ate it up" -- especially in the context of something the listener is eager to learn. I bought my kid a Star Wars encyclopedia and he ate it up.

This phrase can also be used if somebody is fooled -- I told them a lie and they ate it up -- especially, again, if it is something they are eager to hear, such as flattery.

EDIT: Perhaps more specific to the meaning in the OP is to say somebody absorbed the class material, meaning they learned it thoroughly.

In English, to "swallow" a concept kind of suggests you were fooled. When he heard about how they faked the Moon landing he swallowed it whole. You didn't stop to examine it, you just swallowed it.


Devour the book/material

It means to read something eagerly and enthusiastically, almost memorising it as you read because you fully understand it. You'll find it as the third sense of 'devour' in Cambridge Dictionary


There is verb... To grok.

MW: grok

grokked; grokking

transitive verb

: to understand profoundly and intuitively

The nature of this religious nationalism is hard for many Westerners to grok. — Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 6 May 2012

MW notes

Grok may be the only English word that derives from Martian.

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