Hair Shirt


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Idioms, Wikipedia.

Hair Shirt

An informal term for an austerity measure. The term derives from shirts made of animal hair that religious figures have worn as a sign of penance. Austerity measures are adopted to make up for (or even to do penance for) excessive government debt.
References in periodicals archive ?
Contrary to the German king, Bibi I did not walk barefoot in the snow, did not exchange his expensive suit for a hair shirt and did not forgo his sumptuous meals.
(I can't bring myself to wear a hair shirt - yes, they do exist).
I expect Hugo's ghost will be there to help me on with my hair shirt."
But nor should we allow the agitations of shareholders, amplified by certain of our colleagues discountenanced at the performance of their stock options, to force us into a hair shirt, the corporate equivalent of sackcloth and ashes.
Only when Marie Deslandes fainted one day did her daughter, Madeleine de Lamoignon, discover that her mother, whom she had accompanied on charitable rounds for many years, regularly wore a hair shirt and constricting iron bands to mortify her flesh.
There's a danger that the final report of the task force working on Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy's Sustainable Business Initiative will be read as directions for draping the city of Eugene with a hair shirt of green virtue.
In the extreme, the insult to the body via self-flagellation or the hair shirt releases endorphins and produces ecstasy.
"Since a lot of Americans see eating as a 'fueling up the tank' operation, many see eating well as a hair shirt," says Harriman.
So the low-fat diet has been the hair shirt under the fur coat--the daily deprivation that offsets the endless greed.
Morse, on the other hand, has recently been released from jail but still carries his crippling (and self-absorbed) guilt like a hair shirt.
He wore a hair shirt, fasted, and spent time daily in solitary prayer.
He was "wholly a courtier" (183), but one who once longed to be a monk, who memorized the Imitation of Christ, and secretly wore beneath the rich robes Holbein paints him in as Lord Chancellor, a painful hair shirt, first donned at eighteen as a cure for what he deemed unbridled sexuality.