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
Many of his acolytes became leaders of the teeming haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, communities in Brooklyn, England and Israel, as well as in smaller enclaves around the world. Joseph Berger, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024 Producers hope Burleson can avoid the teeming crowds likely to be gathering at ground level for the halftime show with Usher. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 7 Feb. 2024 Sending it 30 feet skyward, he’s given the Ol’ Man Sac River its Ansel Adams-like star treatment, rendering in tactile black-and-white everything from lush riparian sloughs to teeming tributaries to spawning salmon and splashing Chico State students astride inner tubes. Sacramento Bee, 31 Jan. 2024 In the teeming crowd in front of Argentina’s National Congress last week, Alicia Ambrosi weaved her way around banners and placards pleading for more economic assistance – and deriding a new president intent on fundamentally changing how the country works. Natalie Alcoba, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Jan. 2024 Farther south are a series of exceptionally picturesque islands, including Tanegashima, site of the country’s largest rocket-launch center; the wooded Yakushima; and the Amami chain, with its teeming coral reefs. Mihoko Iida Josh Robenstone Richard Pedaline, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2024 Advertisement Its alluring loft draws hikers of all stripes from the teeming megalopolis in its backyard. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2024 There’s something almost poetic about the seemingly endless marching lines of thousands of tiny people, each struggling individually through the crowd while forming a teeming mass through their conformity. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 27 Dec. 2023 The cousins also discuss the cicadas and their cyclical emergence, which reminds the audience of the life teeming under the earth. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 20 Dec. 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 4 Mar. 2024.

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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