be in sackcloth and ashes

be in sackcloth and ashes

To behave in a way that shows one's penitence or remorse for one's misdeeds or poor behavior. Darren has been in sackcloth and ashes ever since his girlfriend broke up with him for cheating on her. The former CEO is spending his days on a private island. He's hardly in sackcloth and ashes after defrauding customers out of millions of dollars, is he?
See also: and, ash, sackcloth
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

sackcloth and ashes, to be in

To be penitent or contrite; in a state of repentance. This term alludes to the ancient Hebrew custom of donning a coarse, dark cloth from which sacks were made and dusting oneself with ashes to signify one’s humility before God. It is mentioned in the Bible: “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). The term may be obsolescent.
See also: and, sackcloth, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
References in periodicals archive ?
Germany should be in sackcloth and ashes for a full 100 years for what they allowed the Nazis to do in their name.