Forming diminutive nouns.
[Irish diminutive suffix -ín.]
Most words in -een are characteristically Irish, though many are now more widely known: a colleen (Irish cailin, diminutive of caile, countrywoman) is a girl or young woman; poteen (Irish (fuisce) poitín, little pot (of whiskey), diminutive of pota, pot) is alcohol made illicitly, typically from potatoes; a shebeen (Anglo-Irish síbín, from séibe, mugful) is an unlicensed establishment or private house selling alcoholic liquor; smithereens (Irish smidirín, a small fragment), small pieces.
A few words come instead from the French ending -in or -ine: canteen, tureen; some names for materials were formed in English in imitation of bombazeen, an older spelling of bombazine, for example velveteen and sateen. The modern equivalent of this ending is -ine (see -ine2).
See also -teen.