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

  • There is not a chapter in the book which does not teem with errors.

    Ephemera Critica

    John Churton Collins

  • Like all the waters of Minnesota, they teem with fine, gamey fish of many varieties.

  • They, however, teem with local allusions and far-fetched puns, and are more interesting to Bohemians than to other readers.

  • The hollows and lower slopes sparkle with villages, and teem with Indian corn and trailing vines.

    Italian Alps

    Douglas William Freshfield

  • Its broad pastures, stretching away to the distant horizon, teem with flocks of ostriches and herds of giraffes.

    Some Heroes of Travel

    W. H. Davenport Adams

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