verb (used with object), boot·strapped, boot·strap·ping.
British Dictionary definitions for pull oneself by one's bootstraps
- Also: boot 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
- (as modifier)a bootstrap loader
verb -straps, -strapping or -strapped (tr)
Word Origin and History for pull oneself by one's bootstraps
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.