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hair shirt

a garment of coarse haircloth, worn next to the skin as a penance by ascetics and penitents.
self-imposed punishment, suffering, sacrifice, or penance.
Origin of hair shirt
1350-1400; cf. hair Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hair shirt
  • Under his episcopal ornaments he wore a rough hair shirt, and had no better covering to his bed than sackcloth.
  • He always wore a hair shirt, took his short rest sitting, and spent great part of the night in prayer.
  • The holy hermit loaded himself with a heavy iron chain, and his garment was a rough hair shirt, made of large hair of camels.
  • She wore continually a hair shirt, and a girdle of horse-hair.
  • He wore a rough hair shirt, and used frequent disciplines.
  • But he was not about to trade his ermine robes for a hair shirt.
  • Old wives tales and hair shirt shibboleths are dark age economics which will reintroduce dark age societies.
  • He's kept the abominable to himself, his own secret hair shirt.
  • We will cheerfully wear our brothers as a hair shirt and go with our duty.
British Dictionary definitions for hair shirt

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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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