Why is ‘bra’ singular and ‘panties’ plural?

Why do we say “a pair of panties” and not “a pair of bras ? People say panties are plural because you put two legs into a pair of panties. I beg you pardon, but don’t you also put two breasts into a bra?

Good question! 😀 Here’s my answer:

Panties is a plural noun. It’s the short for pants. In the same way, things like “glasses”, “spectacles”, “goggles”, “tweezers”, “scissors”, etc are always in plural form and will always have a two-ness about them. If you want to refer to panties as singular, just add “a pair of” in front of it.

Compare these two sentences:

• She just bought new jeans. They look good on her.

• She just bought a new pair of jeans. It looks good on her.

The word bra is taken from a French word brassière meaning a child’s vest. The abbreviation bra is recorded from the mid-1930s, though an earlier abbreviation was bras, which – despite its apparent plural form – was infact a singular noun.


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