The alt.usage.english FAQ
"Brassiere" is first recorded in a Canadian advertisement of
1911, and in the U.S. Index of Patents for the year 1910 (published
in 1911). Dictionaries derive it from obsolete (17th century)
French _brassiere_ = "bodice", from Old French _braciere_ = "arm
protector", from _bras_ = "arm". (The French word for bra is
_soutien-gorge_, literally "support-throat".)
In the southern U.S., a bra is sometimes called a "tit-sling".
This has an obvious derivation.
Wallace Reyburn, to whom Thomas Crapper owes his current fame,
wrote a later book describing a lawsuit over rights to the bra,
fought from 1934 to 1938 in New York, between a German-born
designer, Otto Titzling (1884-1942), and a French-born designer,
Philippe de Brassiere. Martin Gardner, in _Time Travel and Other
Mathematical Bewilderments_ (Freeman, 1988, ISBN 0-7107-1925-8),
p. 137, says: "The book by Wallace Reyburn _Flushed with Pride: The
Story of Thomas Crapper_ does exist. For many years I assumed that
Reyburn's book was the funniest plumbing hoax since H. L. Mencken
wrote his fake history of the bathtub. [...] Reyburn wrote a later
book titled _Bust-up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the
Development of the Bra_. It turns out, though, that both Thomas
Crapper and Otto Titzling were real people, and neither of
Reyburn's books is entirely a hoax."
On its AOL message board, Merriam-Webster Editorial Department
wrote: "dull though it may be, all the available etymological
evidence indicates that the word derives from the French 'brassiere'
[...]; there are many examples of the use of 'brassiere' in the
women's apparel sense throughout the 19th century -- in French.
[...] Given the word's history and that country's language
heritage, it is not surprising that the first occurrence of the
"brassiere" in English comes from Canada. [...] We can find no
verifiable evidence that anyone named either 'Titzling' or
'Brassiere' had anything to do with the origin of the term."
Source: [Mark Israel, 'Word Origins: "titsling"/"brassiere"', The alt.usage.english FAQ file,(line 4244), (29 Sept 1997)]
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