teem » team

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • The place is teaming with evil gangs of rat-faced charvers! (ChavTowns, Oct. 26, 2004)
  • The capital city of Heian is now teaming with evil spirits. (TruePcGaming, May 7, 2013)
  • The plane is relatively light, but chloride in the ocean as well as the life teaming there have worked on it over the 70 years since it last saw sunlight. (FoxNews.com, May 7, 2013)
  • Kabul market teams with activity as Ramadan nears. (AFP Video, Yahoo News, June 26, 2014)
  • I’m glad it’s okay with guests staying there…not teaming with evil spirits that want to chase people out. (Stephen King Revisited, Jan. 11, 2015)

Analyzed or reported by:

In the discussion forum, David Bird writes:

The connection to the obsolete cognate of teem as team, for a brood or family, skirts very closely the other, more familiar team, which is present as both noun and verb… So ultimately teem and team are tied to the same origins, though they have followed separate paths for a few thousand years. These connections enliven the following substitutions, that I think are interesting if not striking eggcorns.

Jorkel adds:

The nice thing about a homophone-based eggcorn like “teaming with evil” is that it is couched in the right idiom (or in-the-language expression) so that it has a natural feel to it … and the imagery that the utterer generated works in a credible way. I think sometimes as eggcorn hunters we are tempted to take our homophone list and invent reshapings first (then follow that up with a Google search of a phrase we created). It’s nice when the eggcorn jumps out and finds us because we have our ears tuned to them.

See also team » teem.

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

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