1 of 2

verb (1)

teemed; teeming; teems

intransitive verb

: to become filled to overflowing : abound
: to be present in large quantity
obsolete : to become pregnant : conceive

transitive verb

archaic : bring forth : give birth to : produce
teemingly adverb
teemingness noun


2 of 2

verb (2)

teemed; teeming; teems

transitive verb

: empty, pour
teem molten metal into a mold

Did you know?

Teem and team are not just homophones, they are also etymological kin. Teem comes from Old English tīman or tǣman, which originally meant "to bring forth offspring" or "to give birth to.” That word is related to the ancestor of team, the Old English noun tēam, meaning "offspring, lineage, or group of draft animals." Team can still be used to refer to a brood of young animals, especially pigs or ducks, but both teem and team have otherwise largely left their offspring-related senses behind.

Did you know?

What is the difference between the verbs teem and team?

If you want to describe an overflowing abundance of something, the word you are looking for is teem. We often see reference to "the teeming masses," "streets teeming with activity," or "forests teeming with life." You want the word team if you are trying to describe pairing two or more things in a coordinated ensemble ("she teamed the oxen together"), or forming some kind of partnership or association ("we are teaming with another organization this year").

Examples of teem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
To maximize their malware’s footprint, Dalton began to plumb the teeming vulnerabilities of the internet of things. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 Down an alleyway no wider than 3 feet, in one of Dhaka’s thousands of teeming informal settlements, is a bright little schoolroom filled with tiny wooden tables. Melanie Stetson Freeman, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Nov. 2023 Scorsese takes the time to acquaint us with the religious beliefs and customs of the Osage, the interpersonal dynamics of Mollie’s family, and the teeming streets of Fairfax, the boomtown where much of the action takes place. David Klion, The New Republic, 21 Oct. 2023 Remember: This is a robust, teeming music platform that grants musicians of any background the power to present and distribute their art. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023 The shop is a curious mixture of cutting-edge fashion and natural skin-care products, enveloped by the teeming greenery of a nursery and topped by an airy cafe. Tom Vanderbilt Josh Robenstone, New York Times, 20 Oct. 2023 The call for a break in the fighting, which erupted on Oct. 7 after Hamas militants launched a bloody surprise attack on Israel, came a day after President Joe Biden got the Israelis to agree to allow limited aid into the teeming Palestinian territory. Abigail Williams, NBC News, 19 Oct. 2023 Most scientists think that Mars is lifeless now—although a few argue that life could be sheltering underground—but no one can say for sure whether the Red Planet could have also been a teeming one. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Oct. 2023 There was perhaps no one in India — no politician, no business leader, no philanthropist — who did more to help feed the teeming country than Dr. Swaminathan. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023
Before the arrival of European explorers in the 1800s, the island’s steep headlands teemed with hundreds of thousands of raucous seabirds, including albatrosses, terns and petrels, whose guano oozed down bluffs to enrich waters brimming with fish. Tim Lydon, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Apr. 2023 The brain sends signals to the gut, which is teeming with nerve cells. Eleanor Morgan, refinery29.com, 12 Apr. 2023 On a game drive that afternoon, the reserve teems with wildlife. Flora Stubbs, Travel + Leisure, 12 Apr. 2023 Jerusalem's Old City, home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, has been teeming with visitors and religious pilgrims from around the world. Josef Federman, ajc, 9 Apr. 2023 The unrest comes at a delicate time for Jerusalem’s Old City, which on Friday was teeming with pilgrims from around the world. Isabel Debre, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Apr. 2023 In fact, Amazon is teeming with under-$30 deals in every category. Amy Schulman, Peoplemag, 6 Apr. 2023 The deep seabed is teeming with potato-sized rocks packed with the nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese EV manufacturers covet. Evan Halper, Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'teem.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb (1)

Middle English temen, from Old English tīman, tǣman; akin to Old English tēam offspring — more at team entry 1

Verb (2)

Middle English temen, from Old Norse tœma; akin to Old English tōm empty

First Known Use

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of teem was before the 12th century


Dictionary Entries Near teem

Cite this Entry

“Teem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teem. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to become filled : abound
a stream teeming with fish

More from Merriam-Webster on teem

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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