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 their 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

a hair shirt

If someone is wearing a hair shirt, they are deliberately making their life unpleasant or uncomfortable, especially because they feel guilty about something. No one is asking you to wear a hair shirt and give up all your luxuries. Note: Hair-shirt can also be used before a noun. Why adopt such a hair-shirt response to economic difficulty when there are so much more appropriate and comfortable alternatives? Note: In the past, hair shirts were very rough, uncomfortable shirts made from horsehair. People sometimes wore them for religious reasons, to show that they were truly sorry for their sins.
See also: hair, shirt

hair shirt

A self-imposed punishment or penance. The term comes from the medieval practice of doing penance by wearing a shirt made of coarse haircloth (made from horsehair and wool), mentioned from the thirteenth century on in numerous sources, including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (The Second Nun’s Tale). It also appears in a couplet by Alexander Pope (1737), “No prelate’s lawns with hair-shirt lin’d is half so incoherent as my mind.” See also sackcloth and ashes.
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 ?
More is dressed in regal garb, yet around his neck can be seen the whiteness of a hair shirt worn underneath.
Nobody is apt to want to put on the hair shirt. Do without my computer?
Some of the most effective directors I have known seem to wear a figurative hair shirt, They ask difficult and sometimes embarrassing questions, They challenge the validity of long-held assure options, question the continuance of sacred cows, and reject the popular answer, "because we've always done it this way."...
Its use of exposed concrete and crude system building is positively hair shirt, and has not pleased everyone over the years.
The story goes that after Archbishop Thomas Becket was assassinated at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, the penitential hair shirt he never removed was found to be swarming with lice.
Letter-by-letter Word-by-Word Hair Hair Hair ball Hair ball Hairbrush Hair shirt Hair shirt Hairbrush
Don't go thinking the tiddler newly installed under the bonnet means a hair shirt existence; you can have yours with an automatic gearbox (PS20,349) or with Suzuki's ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system (PS20,799) which is serious enough about off-road work to come with hill descent control and a limited slip differential.
Pass the hair shirt. Suspect he'll stick with the silk one.
Why was it OK for you to eat sugar, but you expect Jesse to eat hair shirt snacks?" At that, I opened the packet and tried one.
Under Goudge's attentions, Francis's turn toward contemplative life becomes an impressive story of self-denial: he leaves his family, wealth, and comfort, donning a hair shirt and borrowed clothes and weeping over the grandeur of Christ.
Would even the most publicly spirited investment banker turn down lucrative offers from headhunters and go to work for an institution where he or she would be expected to wear the equivalent of a hair shirt? The Treasury has launched a legal attempt to stop the EU from setting any rules on banking bonuses, a move which will be welcomed by those who want the City of London to once again be the world's preeminent financial centre.
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.
Perish the thought, comrade, we're not here for self-aggrandisement - though for me he seems to wear that self-imposed hair shirt rather too comfortably.
It also comes after politicians attempt to work together to plan for December's hair shirt Budget failed miserably just days ago.
However, as a contender for the "hair shirt" post-expenses Parliament, it was perhaps unwise for him to pose outside palatial Croxteth Hall on one of his leaflets.