Definition of shebeen in English:



  • (especially in Ireland, Scotland, and South Africa) an unlicensed establishment or private house selling alcoholic liquor and typically regarded as slightly disreputable.

    • ‘Anyone who has followed PJ's recent colourful response to the ban on smoking - he opened his own private shebeen at his home - would certainly agree.’
    • ‘There in the shebeen they sold poteen and punch while in the pubs, beer and spirits were available.’
    • ‘He also said he had noticed that pool being played in taverns and shebeens in and around East London had in some measure contributed to cutting crime as it gave people something constructive to do.’
    • ‘Because of laws prohibiting blacks from buying liquor, shebeens sprang up, the most famous being 39 Steps in Good Street, owned and run by Fatty Phyllis Petersen, known as Fatty 39 Steps.’
    • ‘They alleged that some senior police officials were running illegal taverns and shebeens, and said the raids were to ward off competition.’
    • ‘It used to be a shebeen, it's now turned into a real bar, it's called the Hawthorn, it's a real classic bar, the last of the real bars.’
    • ‘‘Apparently there are many shebeens in the villages and villagers associated the high incidence of domestic violence with shebeens,’ she said.’
    • ‘And they have had some success: 65 illegal telephone outlets have been closed by the police, who have also raided shebeens and drug operators.’
    • ‘The old actor could just as easily be any European but he is firmly located in the west of Ireland, with its distinctive dry-stone walls and vernacular shebeens in the middle distance.’
    • ‘‘We have also identified that most of these crimes occur at, or in the vicinity of, shebeens,’ she said.’
    • ‘How can a pastor say that shebeens are income-generating?’
    • ‘Metal-cutting and demolition equipment were employed in the closure of illegal structures composed of spaza shops, telephone booths, repair or spray-painting shops as well as shebeens.’
    • ‘Joe would hang out in the many shebeens (unlicensed drinking venues) in the area, and one of his early influences was the sound of Duke Vin, a local resident who introduced the first reggae sound system to Britain.’
    • ‘In September, members of Women's Action for Development in Rehoboth petitioned local authorities to force shebeens and liquor stores to abide by the liquor laws.’
    • ‘He urged the community not to support shebeens and drug merchants and not protect the people who brought illegal substances into the community, but rather assist the police in busting them.’
    • ‘While transporting Brennan to the assizes at Clonmel, his escort stopped to rest at a shebeen (an unlicensed or informal pub) and allowed him to enjoy his pipe.’
    • ‘The joint operation started on Thursday evening and ran through until Saturday evening with the emphasis on illegal shebeens.’
    • ‘Traditionally run by women and without licences, today's shebeens and taverns are a profitable option based on humanity's fondness for the occasional toot.’
    • ‘Louw won the award for his outstanding work, which involved raids on illegal shebeens and clamping down on legal liquor outlets that contravened the Liquor Act and served under-age children.’
    • ‘Effective interventions include dealing with under-age access to alcohol, and decreasing access through a coherent liquor outlet policy, including bringing shebeens into a regulated framework.’


Late 18th century: from Anglo-Irish síbín, from séibe ‘mugful’.