1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Breech
BREECH (common in early forms to Teutonic languages), a covering for the lower part of the body and legs. The Latin braca or bracca is a Celtic word, probably cognate with the Teutonic. The word in its proper meaning is used in the plural, and, strictly, is confined to a garment reaching to the knees only. The meaning of “the hinder part of the body” is later than, and derived from, its first meaning; this sense appears in the “breech” or hinder part of a gun. The word is also found in “breeches buoy,” a sling life-saving apparatus, consisting of a support of canvas breeches. The “Breeches Bible,” a name for the Geneva Bible of 1560, is so called because “breeches” is used for the aprons of fig-leaves made by Adam and Eve. On the stage the phrase a “breeches” part is used when a woman plays in male costume. “Breeching” is a strap passed round the breech of a harnessed horse and joined to the shafts to allow a vehicle to be backed.