team » teem

Chiefly in:   teem up with

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • [T]here was the riveting VH1 documentary “The Night James Brown Saved Boston,” and a great tribute concert at London’s Barbican, when a couple of his old band-members teemed up with a bunch of stellar African musicians. (Nick Hornby, New York Times, Oct. 29, 2008)
  • Tonight he teems up with the equally legendary New Orleans neighbors Preservation Hall Jazz Band for what will surely be a fine evenign of music. (Brooklyn Vegan, Nov. 1, 2014)
  • Uber in Chicago has teemed up with the Snickers candy brand to deliver on-demand free Halloween costumes — and a specially-branded Snickers bar of course — to local Halloween partygoers who have procrastinated about getting their costumes. (Chicago Business Journal, Oct. 30, 2015)

Teem in the sense of ‘abound, swarm’ is etymologically related to team, which in Old English could mean ‘a brood of young animals.’ This eggcorn may seem particularly apt if the collaboration implied by “team up with” involves a large number of people (as in musicians on stage).

Complicating the picture is the use of teem up to mean roughly the same thing as teem, as in this dialectal example:

“In another hour this place’ll be teeming up with folks from all over the county and I don’t want no trouble.” — Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976) by Mildred D. Taylor

See also teem » team.

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2016/01/03 |

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