Definition of sackcloth in English:



mass noun
  • A very coarse, rough fabric woven from flax or hemp.

    • ‘Initially attired in heavyweight fabrics, and sackcloth aprons - the sort of robust clothing necessary to withstand the rigour of their work - the girls were often criticised for their lack of femininity.’
    • ‘Once again, they had to repair; the material on the seat become more and more primitive, resembling a blue sackcloth compared to the imitation denim all around it.’
    • ‘I don't see socialist society as just sackcloth and turnip soup.’
    • ‘And I pictured portly monks in sackcloth habits fighting off marauders with arrows blessed by some medieval bishop.’
    • ‘The feel of the dark silk against his skin was welcome after the years of coarse sackcloth, and having the weight of the chains taken away lifted his spirits.’
    • ‘The statue has been covered in sackcloth in central Bangalore for more than a decade because of opposition from some Kannada organisations.’
    • ‘So it went through the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s, when female film stars wrapped their chests in sackcloth lest they appear buxom, which was tantamount to being bourgeois.’
    • ‘Besides exporting cloth, he imported nails, lumber, iron, glass, and sackcloth; he also dealt in wine (but was not necessarily importing it himself).’
    • ‘And she… she was decked out in the same sackcloth shirt and leggings that she had been wearing since they'd left Xykrull.’
    • ‘At the end of a bout he, accompanied by Gravrak on one side and the ever-present Reppi on the other, would stumble back to his ‘room’ and collapse on the dirty pile of sackcloth that now served as his bed.’
    • ‘A fashion show in Leeds is setting out to prove fair trade clothing has shaken off its sackcloth and oatmeal image.’
    • ‘Perennials can be protected with sackcloth and placed in an area where they are less exposed to the elements.’
    • ‘The torn and dirty breeches, sackcloth shirt, and tangled hair did not exactly jibe with the mental image she had formed of the prim and sharply dressed servant's master.’
    • ‘Canvas is popular because it's light, rigid, yet elastic at the same time. Canvas can be made from sackcloth, cotton (most popular), synthetic, a combination of materials or even smooth linen.’
    • ‘The last time this much anticipation surrounded a union, the couple in question was Mary and Joseph (back in the days when designers worked in sackcloth, not silk)!’
    • ‘The amputated arm lay on the grass near Haru, and when she finished, Haru turned around and wrapped the arm in sackcloth.’
    • ‘In the mid-17th century Quakers went ‘naked for a sign’, but they often turn out to have been wearing sackcloth coats - ‘naked’ here means without shoes, hats or outer garments.’
    • ‘A strange sackcloth mask with two slit-like eyeholes is pulled over his head.’
    • ‘Her leggings and sleeveless shirt, both made of cheap sackcloth, were caked with dirt, though in this light and from this distance he couldn't tell whether or not there was blood on her garments.’
    hessian, sacking, hopsack, hopsacking, burlap
    View synonyms


  • sackcloth and ashes

    • Used with allusion to the wearing of sackcloth and having ashes sprinkled on the head as a sign of penitence or mourning (Matt 11:21)

      ‘they should, at least, be wearing sackcloth and ashes in token penance of the wrongs committed’
      • ‘This weekend he donned sackcloth and ashes to confess the inaccuracy of his growth forecasts to the IMF.’
      • ‘Excuse me while I go rend my garments and put on sackcloth and ashes.’
      • ‘We are the generation, along with our fathers and mothers, who put on the sackcloth and ashes, who wore the hair shirt, who stoically suffered penal taxes, who went without so that the future generations might have a better quality of life.’
      • ‘That debacle was quite some time ago - we can't wear sackcloth and ashes forever.’
      • ‘And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes, not in a back room, but openly.’
      • ‘Blair and his followers are unaccustomed to reversals and U-turns, unused to sackcloth and ashes, yet for a brief period last week, they appeared to embrace all of them with some grace and due humility.’
      • ‘They so much wanted to impose sackcloth and ashes on everyone.’
      • ‘Even Fischer, who has faced most criticism, has meekly put on sackcloth and ashes and done penitence.’
      • ‘At the last minute, he saw the danger and went around talking loudly about the need for republicans to wear sackcloth and ashes.’
      • ‘No doubt CTB members will even now be donning the sackcloth and ashes before going up to apologise to the Lake District National Park Authority for their previous invective.’
      • ‘I'd wear sackcloth and ashes, if it would do any good.’
      • ‘They way he tells it you'd think we were all of us permanently roaming about the land in sackcloth and ashes, wailing and mithering.’
      • ‘There are some organs of the media, and I pick my word advisedly, who, if we wore sackcloth and ashes and paid to work in the parliament would still have something to complain about.’
      • ‘No doubt it has also ordered extra sackcloth and ashes to show just how sorry it really is.’
      • ‘The ritual wailing and moaning, the tearing out of hair, the sackcloth and ashes that some cultures indulge in as a ritual response to death: these, I understand, too, as catharsis, as closure.’
      • ‘The sackcloth and ashes of 1999 are being cast off and he is not sorry now for campaigning against the Scottish parliament.’
      penitent, contrite, regretful, full of regret, sorrowful, rueful, remorseful, apologetic, conscience-stricken, ashamed, guilt-ridden, chastened, shamefaced, self-reproachful, guilty
      View synonyms