Definition of poteen in US English:


(also potheen)


  • Alcohol made illicitly, typically from potatoes.

    • ‘The distiller recommends only drinking the 180 proof poteen with mixers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Poitin or poteen is a Gaelic word meaning ‘little pot’ applied to whiskey made in illicit stills.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There in the shebeen they sold poteen and punch while in the pubs, beer and spirits were available.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They raided a poteen still in Riley's Place a month ago.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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