verb (used without object)

to abound or swarm; be prolific or fertile (usually followed by with).
Obsolete. to be or become pregnant; bring forth young.

verb (used with object)

Obsolete. to produce (offspring).

Origin of teem

before 900; Middle English temen, Old English tēman, tīeman to produce (offspring), derivative of tēam team
Related formsteem·er, noun

Synonyms for teem



verb (used with or without object)

to empty or pour out; discharge.

Origin of teem

1250–1300; Middle English temen < Old Norse tæma to empty, derivative of tōmr empty, cognate with Old English tōm free from
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for teem

Contemporary Examples of teem

  • If the past eight months were full of international thrills, the next ones are more likely to teem with spills.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Obama's Next Six Crises

    Leslie H. Gelb

    September 11, 2009

Historical Examples of teem

  • In like manner, his physiognomical expression seemed to teem with benignity.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • "Liza, teem a short pint intil this lang Robbie," said Matthew.

  • Sista, there's some betterment in the weather, now; it teem't awhile ago.

  • They teem with the worst kind of libels against the Society.

    The Jesuits, 1534-1921

    Thomas J. Campbell

  • The neighbourhood of Trirodov's estate began to teem with detectives.

    The Created Legend

    Feodor Sologub

British Dictionary definitions for teem




(intr usually foll by with) to be prolific or abundant (in); abound (in)
obsolete to bring forth (young)

Word Origin for teem

Old English tēman to produce offspring; related to West Saxon tīeman; see team




(intr; often foll by down or with rain) to pour in torrentsit's teeming down
(tr) to pour or empty out
Derived Formsteemer, noun

Word Origin for teem

C15 temen to empty, from Old Norse tœma; related to Old English tōm, Old High German zuomīg empty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for teem

"abound, swarm," Old English teman (Mercian), tieman (West Saxon) "give birth to, produce," from Proto-Germanic *taumijanan, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke (n.)). Related to team in its now-obsolete Old English sense of "family, brood of young animals." The meaning "be fertile, abound, swarm" is first recorded 1590s. Related: Teemed; teeming.


"to flow copiously," c.1300, from Old Norse toema "to empty," from tomr "empty," cognate with Old English tom "empty." The original notion is of "to empty a vessel," thus "to pour out." Related: Teemed; teeming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper