hair shirt


: a shirt made of rough animal hair worn next to the skin as a penance
: one that irritates like a hair shirt

Examples of hair shirt in a Sentence

the constant need to cut costs was a hair shirt, but one that the theater company had to live with
Recent Examples on the Web Talking about wedding vows was like donning a hair shirt. Leslie Jamison, The New Yorker, 15 Jan. 2024 The novel aesthetic of Art Nouveau wrapped modernism in the garb of pleasure, instead of in the hair shirt of social obligation and moral uplift. Regina Cole, Forbes, 1 Jan. 2023 Few people’s utopia involves wearing a hair shirt and giving up culinary pleasures; utopia and sacrifice are, for many, antonyms. Jan Dutkiewicz, The New Republic, 20 Oct. 2022 This is a coming-of-age story in which the transition from adolescence to adulthood is akin to swapping one hair shirt for another. Jake Cline, Washington Post, 27 May 2022 Aiden needs neither hair shirt nor whip to self-flagellate, and Simone writes of depression with a visceral ache. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 11 Nov. 2021 To toughen it up, Ford resorted to that longtime crossover hair shirt, the roof rack. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 6 July 2020 Asking billions of people to don an unwashed hair shirt wouldn’t work; the solution would have to be rapid technological innovation. Jon Gertner, Wired, 1 Apr. 2020 Even a hair shirt worn voluntarily is uncomfortable. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hair shirt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hair shirt was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near hair shirt

Cite this Entry

“Hair shirt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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