Definition of sackcloth and ashes in English:

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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even Fischer, who has faced most criticism, has meekly put on sackcloth and ashes and done penitence.’
    • ‘That debacle was quite some time ago - we can't wear sackcloth and ashes forever.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the last minute, he saw the danger and went around talking loudly about the need for republicans to wear sackcloth and ashes.’
    • ‘I'd wear sackcloth and ashes, if it would do any good.’
    • ‘The sackcloth and ashes of 1999 are being cast off and he is not sorry now for campaigning against the Scottish parliament.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And they need to wear their sackcloth and ashes, not in a back room, but openly.’
    • ‘They so much wanted to impose sackcloth and ashes on everyone.’
    • ‘No doubt it has also ordered extra sackcloth and ashes to show just how sorry it really is.’
    penitent, contrite, regretful, full of regret, sorrowful, rueful, remorseful, apologetic, conscience-stricken, ashamed, guilt-ridden, chastened, shamefaced, self-reproachful, guilty
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