hair shirt









hair shirt


noun

  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.

noun

  1. a shirt made of haircloth worn next to the skin as a penance
  2. a secret trouble or affliction

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.

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