a garment of coarse haircloth, worn next to the skin as a penance by ascetics and penitents.
self-imposed punishment, suffering, sacrifice, or penance.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for hair shirt
a shirt made of haircloth worn next to the skin as a penance
a secret trouble or affliction
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Idioms and Phrases with hair shirt
A self-imposed punishment or penance, as in I apologized a dozen times—do you want me to wear a hair shirt forever? This term, mentioned from the 13th century on, alludes to wearing a coarse, scratchy hair shirt, the practice of religious ascetics. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
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