Definition of hair shirt in US English:

hair shirt


  • A shirt of haircloth, formerly worn by penitents and ascetics.

    • ‘In the opposite corner is the artist himself, and though he's got a big leather-bound volume under his arm and a hair shirt on his back, he's grinning from ear to ear.’
    • ‘As for discomfort, a tie is hardly in the league of a hair shirt.’
    • ‘And it sounds to me as if he's the one who ought to be wearing that particular hair shirt.’
    • ‘After his death he was found to have been wearing a hair shirt.’
    • ‘I'm not trying to excuse it at all, I'm just saying that we tend to sometimes pull on hair shirts and flagellate ourselves, even when we're not responsible for alleged transgressions, and we do it a bit too much.’
    • ‘In putting on a collective hair shirt, the party neglected this priceless piece of political wisdom.’
    • ‘In other words, when did hair shirts go out of fashion?’
    • ‘She fasted savagely, stood barefoot on winter mornings while she recited all 150 psalms, and wore iron chains and a hair shirt till the day she died.’
    • ‘It is as if it has gone out and said that New Zealand will put on the thickest hair shirt and will go out to the world and lead the way and change behaviour.’
    • ‘It was not, he told me, a matter of wearing a one-size-fits-all hair shirt.’
    • ‘For example, after the murder of Thomas Becket, Henry II went on a walkabout in a hair shirt to expiate his sin of accidentally-on-purpose suggesting that the cleric's removal would suit him right down to the ground.’
    • ‘‘He s been through more hair shirts than most people have been through suits,’ one person said this week.’
    • ‘It was also said that he wore a hair shirt when he made love to his three former wives, all deceased as divorce was quite out of Christian standards.’
    • ‘Scourges, chains and hair shirts were the must-have accessories in these women's lives.’
    • ‘He bathed and put aside his sackcloth and hair shirt.’
    • ‘What do you want him to do, put on hair shirt and beat himself with a birch branch?’
    • ‘We were deliriously happy 20 years ago when we were tightening our belts and donning our hair shirts.’
    • ‘They were hung up by their thumbs, lighted candles were set to the soles of their feet, hair shirts dipped in vinegar were wrapped around them to peel the skin off and needles were thrust up their fingers.’
    • ‘You have chosen to wear your hair shirt to the end.’
    • ‘With the sigh of a man weighted down by a very large hair shirt, he accepts blame for making the mistake.’


  • Austere and self-sacrificing.

    ‘a hair-shirted existence advocated by ecofundamentalists’
    • ‘The austerity is admirable but the effect of this hair-shirted self-punishment is too often not the revelation of a new affective range, but a dutiful boredom.’
    • ‘‘Ethical living’ was once the domain of hair-shirted hippies living in north Wales; now it has been adopted by the urban glitterati.’
    • ‘Although something tells me that there's probably a market for it amongst the shop's more hair-shirted customer base.’
    • ‘There is a fashionable guilt among many people in this country which prompts them to wear the evils of the Empire like a hair-shirt.’
    • ‘It starts off with the usual hair-shirt socialistic nonsense: spending money on holidays and a new kitchen is bad.’
    • ‘I think of going there at the weekend as a sort of character-building penance, somewhat akin to light flagellation or putting on a freshly ironed hair-shirt.’
    • ‘Lowering taxes should be popular but in our perverted hair-shirt mentality we are meant to believe that low taxes are bad, high taxes good.’
    • ‘These foods are, thankfully, less about the hair-shirt approach of pumpkin seeds and alfalfa sprouts and more about seductive products, such as the Feel Great Cranberry Muffins.’
    • ‘Historically the product of a theocracy, Scots are imbued with the most hair-shirted of Protestant work ethics of hard work and reliability, with guilt, until recently a key driving force.’
    • ‘The people who deserve our accolades for saving the planet are not the hair-shirted ones wandering around saying ‘Woe is us!’’
    austere, self-denying, abstinent, abstemious, non-indulgent, self-disciplined, frugal, simple, rigorous, strict, severe, hair-shirt, spartan, monastic, monkish, nunlike
    View synonyms


hair shirt

/ˈhɛ(ə)r ˌʃərt//ˈhe(ə)r ˌSHərt/