Hair Shirt

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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 ?
HAIR SHIRTS, HAIRY LEGS: Sister Ruth and Sister Maria show off their knees and entertain shoppers in Coventry as part of the summer celebration events.
Penitents were required to crop their hair, wear hair shirts (goat hair, not their own), practice celibacy, and prostrate themselves before the bishop, who would literally walk over their backs on his way into the church for Mass.
It's a boys' schoolyard brawl, pitting the Hair Shirts against the Foreskins.
So we donned our hair shirts and, as the trees rustled mysteriously in the night air, feasted, richly, on our reward.