[sak-klawth, -kloth]


coarse cloth worn as a sign of mourning or penitence.


    in sackcloth and ashes, in a state of repentance or sorrow; contrite: She would be in sackcloth and ashes for days over every trifling error she made.

Origin of sackcloth

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at sack1, cloth
Related formssack·clothed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sackcloth

Contemporary Examples of sackcloth

  • Why do we don the sackcloth and ashes of the eternal victims?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Today's Lamentations

    Aryeh Cohen

    July 29, 2012

Historical Examples of sackcloth

British Dictionary definitions for sackcloth



coarse cloth such as sacking
garments made of such cloth, worn formerly to indicate mourning or penitence
sackcloth and ashes a public display of extreme grief, remorse, or repentance
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 sackcloth

penitential or grieving garb, late 13c., literally "cloth of which sacks are made," from sack (n.1) + cloth. In the Biblical sense it was of goats' or camels' hair, the coarsest possible clothing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper