Briefs are a type of underwear that is short and tight. It is popular with athletes and those that like more *snicker* support than boxers provide. Okay, I swear, I'm going to stop being so immature. Maybe.
Briefs can have a fly that allows easy access for bathroom activities like boxers, but many styles do not include one. Most briefs cover the upper thigh and rise to the belly button. Women's also come in low-rise and mid-rise versions, but most people are familiar with the regular full-rise cut. I call these granny panties when worn by women. Tighty-whities seem to be the going term for the men's version.
Briefs were first sold in the United States in 1935. They began selling in the United Kingdom in 1938. They are called Y-fronts in England. Australia calls them jocks. Other European countries call them slips. Canada calls them bobettes. So many names for something people don't talk about very much.
The last part of the article was interesting. I had never heard that wearing briefs could inhibit a man's fertility. Apparently that may or may not be true.