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 ?
And why they can send an infinite number of hair-shirted MPs on to the streets to patronise the poor but they'll never, ever convince us they have an ounce of compassion in their souls.
But his hair-shirted, but equally mis-sold, neighbour who saves it up monthly, or uses it to pay off part of the mortgage early, is all-square and presumably not entitled to compensation.
That still leaves time for Chancellor Brown to stall it with a hair-shirted Budget.
Nicely packaged, this particular four-CD set brings all 16 sonatas for violin and piano by Mozart in performances by violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Daniel Barenboim which, whilst not pandering to the more rabidly hair-shirted 'authentic' brigade, never fail to bring musical insights and sophisticatedly deployed brilliance of technique to these under-rated works.
It would be tantamount to dumping the centrepiece of his entire economic policy and one that has been widely accepted as a success, even by people who would have preferred some less hair-shirted decisions.
Friday's sell-out concert from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group attracted a wide and enthusiastic cross-section of music-lovers of all ages, among which it was very hard to spot any hair-shirted anoraks.