• synonyms


noun Scot., Irish English, South African.
  1. a tavern or house where liquor is sold illegally.
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Origin of shebeen

1780–90; < Irish síbín illicit whiskey, place where such whiskey is sold (ellipsis from teach síbín shebeen house), orig., a unit of measure < English chopin1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shebeen

Historical Examples of shebeen

  • "'Twas at Micky's shebeen that they had the first encounther wid the inimy," said old Martin.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 148, January 20th 1915


  • A reconciliation took place, and in due time it was determined that Peter, as he understood poteen, should open a shebeen house.

  • Shebeen, an unlicensed place where spirituous liquors are illegally sold.

    The Slang Dictionary

    John Camden Hotten

  • There was a bitter taste in his mouth, and a pain in his ear where somebody'd hit him during a shebeen brawl the night before.

    The Buttoned Sky

    Geoff St. Reynard

  • Shebeen or sheebeen; an unlicensed public-house or alehouse where spirits are sold on the sly.

British Dictionary definitions for shebeen



  1. Irish, Scot and Southern African a place where alcoholic drink is sold illegally
  2. (in Ireland) alcohol, esp home-distilled whiskey, sold without a licence
  3. (in South Africa) a place where Black African men engage in social drinking
  4. (in the US and Ireland) weak beer
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Word Origin for shebeen

C18: from Irish Gaelic síbín beer of poor quality
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for shebeen


"cabin where unlicensed liquor is sold and drunk," 1781, chiefly in Ireland and Scotland, from Irish seibin "small mug," also "bad ale," diminutive of seibe "mug, bottle, liquid measure." The word immigrated and persisted in South African and West Indian English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper