hair shirt

See synonyms for hair shirt on
  1. a garment of coarse haircloth, worn next to the skin as a penance by ascetics and penitents.

  2. self-imposed punishment, suffering, sacrifice, or penance.

Origin of hair shirt

1350–1400; cf. hair

Words Nearby hair shirt Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use hair shirt in a sentence

  • Had she not openly asserted her belief that he wore a hair shirt and scourged himself in private?

  • England, apparently with a sigh of relief, lays aside her hair shirt, and proves that she has been wearing a silk vest under it.

    English Costume | Dion Clayton Calthrop
  • They found under his outer garments a hair shirt, and then they were half convinced he must have been a godly man.

  • On the same day he had put on a hair shirt, and he had never since removed either the one or the other.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned | Ford Madox Ford
  • He had left Petrograd dressed as a pilgrim, with hair-shirt and staff complete, and as such he posed to everybody.

    The Minister of Evil | William Le Queux

British Dictionary definitions for hair shirt

hair shirt

  1. a shirt made of haircloth worn next to the skin as a penance

  2. a secret trouble or affliction

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with hair shirt

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 Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.