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From velns (devil) +‎ -iņš (dim.).


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velniņš m (1st declension)

  1. little devil; young, not fully grown devil; diminutive of velns
  2. (colloquial, figuratively) some, usually unexpected or inappropriate, mental state or emotion
    Fredis ēda pusdienas, Helēna, nosēdusies galda otrā pusē, centās būt rātna, bet kaut kāds velniņš visu laiku skrāpējās viņā, un viņai nāca smiekli‎ ― Fredis was eating lunch, Helēna, sitting at the other side of the table, tried to be well-behaved, but some little devil was scratching all the time in her, and she started laughing
    liekas, mazs skaudības velniņš iezadzies viņa sirdī‎ ― it seems that some little devil of envy had sneaked into his heart