Definition of cilice in English:



  • 1A hair shirt.

    • ‘In the evening we keep pious conversation while attending to pious works such as making rosaries, cilices and repairing books.’
    • ‘The cilice mentioned in the novel is a thigh-mounted type, but i guess the original cilices were coarse hairy shirts.’
    • ‘Nuns of some religious orders wear a hair cloth or cilice next their skin.’
    1. 1.1A spiked garter or other device worn by penitents and ascetics.
      • ‘His descriptions of the practice of corporal mortification is also inaccurate, as is his representation of the cilice and the discipline.’
      • ‘The cilice creates a minor leg irritation which is intended to be a reminder of Christ's suffering.’
      • ‘Critics say it encourages flagellation and the use of the cilice - a belt tightened around the thigh with metal prongs pointing inwards which is used in some religious orders.’
      • ‘I don't fancy that 'cilice' very much.’
      • ‘This is an actual cilice worn by numeraries around their bare thighs for two hours a day.’


Late 16th century: from French, from Latin cilicium, from Greek kilikion, from Kilikia, the Greek name for Cilicia in Asia Minor (because hair shirts were originally made of Cilician goats' hair).