hair shirt


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hair shirt

1. An uncomfortable garment made of coarse hair or other material worn against the skin. Used in some religious rituals as punishment or penance. In ancient times, men would wear a hair shirt as a sign of repentance to their deity for wrongs they had done.
2. By extension, something a person does to intentionally make an aspect of his or her life uncomfortable or unpleasant, often as a form of penance. I understand that you are sorry for your actions, but there is no need to wear a hair shirt because of it. All is forgiven. A: "Why aren't you eating dessert?" B: "Oh, it's my punishment—my hair shirt, if you will—for blowing off my schoolwork this week."
See also: 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.
See also: hair, shirt

hair shirt

A self-imposed act of atonement. The wearing of shirts made of unprocessed animal hair or a rough cloth next to the skin dates back to biblical days. The purpose of such an uncomfortable garment was as an expression of faith, a constant reminder that the wearer's sinful flesh was inconsequential compared to a commitment to God. Some members of the nobility wore hair shirts to compensate for the luxury with which they surrounded themselves. Although such mortification of the flesh is rare these days, “hair shirt” survives as a metaphor for self-imposed penitence. A basketball player who takes cold showers for the next month as penance after missing what would have been a game-winning shot has chosen to wear, as it were, a liquid hair shirt.
See also: hair, shirt
References in periodicals archive ?
The exception (whose name I can't remember) was the saint I earned for speed-reading Dick and Jane: her image stopped at her waist, the better to impress upon me the hair shirt she was wearing, tight as a corset against her naked torso.
On the open road there is an underlying toughness to the ride, many miles from a hair shirt but not quite the Jermyn Street cut of a Range Rover.
The Vitara has never been bad in the rough but, like buying a hair shirt for judicial enquiries and wearing it to drinks parties, a price was paid in everyday use.
Mr Carter may feel that he deserves to wear a hair shirt.
I was a ballboy, in a washedout bottle green tracksuit that itched like a penitent's hair shirt.
One of the problems with an economic recession is that along with the doom and gloom merchants come the puritans - killjoys and hair shirt merchants who believe we're being punished for our previous excesses.
But there are still ways to make our habits less harmful without donning the hair shirt.
Tartuffe (John Ramm) is talked about constantly but does not appear until an hour into proceedings, arriving with the immortal line: "Rub some fresh stinging nettles into my hair shirt will you?
As ever, I'm happy to don the hair shirt and apologise.
May I issue a plea to the rulers of Betfair that as part any agreement with Timeform, the most rigid conditions are laid down to preserve the priceless editorial independence of a publication that has my total respect, not least for its deep wisdom in refusing to employ me in the House of The Hair Shirt, Halifax, when fresh out of university.
The news from Russia that they are prepared to increase prices or cut gas supplies to users, is a wake-up call to the rest of Europe, who have bowed to the hair shirt environmentalist brigade making us ignore the real problems facing us with energy.
He was RIGHT to dismiss the doom merchants who wanted him to wear a hair shirt because the result went against us.
Do I go and suffer the guilt, maybe wear a hair shirt or something to make myself suffer in some way too?
The best that can be said about the Budget is that, despite the hair shirt in prospect for the UK, it did nothing to get in the way of the markets' attempts to rebuild confidence.
The intention is not to urge Christians to get measured for a hair shirt but to rediscover 'how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell together in unity' with all that lives.