A form of woman's undergarment, often stiffened with wire or whalebones, or the like, and worn to cover and support the breasts; -- also called bra. It usually has straps which support it from the shoulders, but strapless variants are also made.
Someone on the 'Net has written that the "brassiere" was named after its inventor. Considering that the word in French refers to some related garments, that would seem to be pushing coincidence a bit far, and in fact a dictionary I just looked in gives the Old French name for a garment as the source.
A brassiere (Brit. ; U.S. , commonly referred to as a bra, ) is an article of clothing that covers, supports, and elevates the breasts. As well as being an undergarment, the bra is also considered to be a foundation garment, because of its role in shaping the figure of the wearer. Originally developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and replacing the corset, the bra has become in many parts of the world the most popular form of underwear for the upper body, although camisoles and chemises are now increasingly challenging this.
No one knows exactly who invented the brassiere, but it dates back to the early 1900s. In 1914, a design was patented in the U.S. by Mary Phelps Jacob for a brassiere. It was made of two handkerchiefs and a narrow ribbon.