View synonyms for bootstrap


[ boot-strap ]


  1. a loop of leather or cloth sewn at the top rear, or sometimes on each side, of a boot none to facilitate pulling it on.
  2. a means of advancing oneself or accomplishing something:

    He used his business experience as a bootstrap to win voters.


  1. relying entirely on one's efforts and resources:

    The business was a bootstrap operation for the first ten years.

  2. self-generating or self-sustaining:

    a bootstrap process.

verb (used with object)

, boot·strapped, boot·strap·ping.
  1. to help (oneself) without the aid of others:

    She spent years bootstrapping herself through college.


/ ˈbuːtˌstræp /


  1. a leather or fabric loop on the back or side of a boot for pulling it on
  2. by one's bootstraps or by one's own bootstraps
    by one's own efforts; unaided
  3. modifier self-acting or self-sufficient, as an electronic amplifier that uses its output voltage to bias its input
    1. Alsoboot a technique for loading the first few program instructions into a computer main store to enable the rest of the program to be introduced from an input device
    2. ( as modifier )

      a bootstrap loader

  4. commerce an offer to purchase a controlling interest in a company, esp with the intention of purchasing the remainder of the equity at a lower price


  1. to set up or achieve (something) using minimal resources
  2. foll by to to attach (something) to a larger or more important thing

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bootstrap1

First recorded in 1890–95; boot 1none + strap none

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. 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.

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Example Sentences

Awotona put his entire life savings into Calendly and managed to bootstrap it for years before taking a $350 million funding round led by OpenView and Iconiq.

“We could start an algorithm that initially does not have much intelligence inside it, and watch it bootstrap itself all the way up potentially to AGI,” Clune says.

The offset thing that we think will stand up is if you gather money from companies and consumers to bootstrap the market for clean steel and clean cement.

It was also at this point I realized that, despite being in the midst of a pandemic, we had managed to bootstrap our way through and we had a product and customers.

From Fortune

No, I’m there as someone who spent the first eight years of my life in the Bronx, who understands what it means to have to bootstrap yourself.

The actual gunmen had cited Osama bin Laden as their motive, but TTP was eager to bootstrap.

Unlike silly examples involving broccoli and cell phones, that so-called “bootstrap” argument is sound.

The skeleton compiler acts as a bootstrap for introducing more sophisticated facilities.

The ground is covered with stately temples of various designs, all of which I am told are consecrated to Bootstrap-lifting.

As I stand watching, a card is handed to me, informing me that a lady will do my Bootstrap-lifting at five dollars per lift.

I consult these—for my legs have given out in the effort to visit and inspect all phases of the Bootstrap-lifting practice.

In the few minutes before Bootstrap loomed near, they filled the bottom of the cabin with blankets.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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