Definition of poteen in US English:


(also potheen)


  • Alcohol made illicitly, typically from potatoes.

    • ‘Well, he recently confessed to enjoying a regular breakfast of potatoes covered in Guinness washed down with a steaming hot mug of poteen.’
    • ‘The history of the Knockeen Hills brand is becoming a legend in itself, having first been produced when the sale of poteen was still illegal in Ireland.’
    • ‘That day a large group of village people gathered around a long picnic table eating barbecued lamb and singing Bosnian folk songs helped along by a strange Bosnian drink not unlike poteen.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the authorities at Limerick prison have started a major crackdown on a very potent form of jail poteen which prisoners make for consumption at Christmas.’
    • ‘For more than a wee while, we discussed the potato and poteen, that wickedly potent brew that has been known to kick-start a reluctant cow into labour.’
    • ‘The request was granted 12 hours later and I was rewarded with a bottle of poteen as the Doctors did not accept a fee in such cases.’
    • ‘I wasn't sure what Martinis were but they were something like the stuff called poteen that was given to special visitors like the priest or to the postman at Christmas.’
    • ‘There in the shebeen they sold poteen and punch while in the pubs, beer and spirits were available.’
    • ‘Poitin or poteen is a Gaelic word meaning ‘little pot’ applied to whiskey made in illicit stills.’
    • ‘The local priest sent word to the Station that same night that he heard of poteen being sold in full view and openly at a certain premises and could I go there hotfoot?’
    • ‘Then again, it might be nothing more serious than the fact that I grew up in poteen country where there were several shades of grey between good and evil.’
    • ‘I caught a bit of this on Radio 4 yesterday: stuff I had never known about the distilling of illicit liquor in Scotland and Ireland, moonshine and poteen.’
    • ‘Apart from promoting food crops the papers at the time were full with reports of poteen making, hen stealing and, even in two cases, of people stealing potatoes from fields.’
    • ‘The distiller recommends only drinking the 180 proof poteen with mixers.’
    • ‘They raided a poteen still in Riley's Place a month ago.’


Early 19th century: from Irish (fuisce) poitín ‘little pot (of whiskey)’, diminutive of pota ‘pot’.