bootstrap

[ boot-strap ]
/ ˈbutˌstræp /

noun

a loop of leather or cloth sewn at the top rear, or sometimes on each side, of a boot to facilitate pulling it on.
a means of advancing oneself or accomplishing something: He used his business experience as a bootstrap to win voters.

adjective

relying entirely on one's efforts and resources: The business was a bootstrap operation for the first ten years.
self-generating or self-sustaining: a bootstrap process.

verb (used with object), boot·strapped, boot·strap·ping.

Computers. boot1(defs 24, 28).
to help (oneself) without the aid of others: She spent years bootstrapping herself through college.

RELATED WORDS

Idioms

    pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps, to help oneself without the aid of others; use one's resources: I admire him for pulling himself up by his own bootstraps.

Origin of bootstrap

First recorded in 1890–95; boot1 + strap
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bootstrap

British Dictionary definitions for bootstrap

bootstrap

/ (ˈbuːtˌstræp) /

noun

verb -straps, -strapping or -strapped (tr)

to set up or achieve (something) using minimal resources
(foll by to) to attach (something) to a larger or more important thing
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bootstrap

bootstrap


n.

also boot-strap, tab or loop at the back of the top of a men's boot, which the wearer hooked a finger through to pull the boots on, 1870, from boot (n.) + strap (n.).

Circa 1900, to pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps was used figuratively of an impossible task (Among the "practical questions" at the end of chapter one of Steele's "Popular Physics" schoolbook (1888) is, "30. Why can not a man lift himself by pulling up on his boot-straps?"). By 1916 its meaning expanded to include "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort." The meaning "fixed sequence of instructions to load the operating system of a computer" (1953) is from the notion of the first-loaded program pulling itself, and the rest, up by the bootstrap.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper