Definition of hair shirt in English:

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hair shirt


A shirt of haircloth, formerly worn by penitents and ascetics.
Example sentences
  • She fasted savagely, stood barefoot on winter mornings while she recited all 150 psalms, and wore iron chains and a hair shirt till the day she died.
  • It was not, he told me, a matter of wearing a one-size-fits-all hair shirt.
  • For example, after the murder of Thomas Becket, Henry II went on a walkabout in a hair shirt to expiate his sin of accidentally-on-purpose suggesting that the cleric's removal would suit him right down to the ground.


(hair-shirt or hair-shirted) Austere and self-sacrificing: a hair-shirted existence advocated by eco-fundamentalists
More example sentences
  • The austerity is admirable but the effect of this hair-shirted self-punishment is too often not the revelation of a new affective range, but a dutiful boredom.
  • Historically the product of a theocracy, Scots are imbued with the most hair-shirted of Protestant work ethics of hard work and reliability, with guilt, until recently a key driving force.
  • ‘Ethical living’ was once the domain of hair-shirted hippies living in north Wales; now it has been adopted by the urban glitterati.

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