pull oneself up by the bootstraps


Succeed by one's own efforts, as in She was homeless for nearly two years, but she managed to pull herself up by the bootstraps. This expression alludes to pulling on high boots by means of the straps or loops attached to them at the top. [Early 1900s]

QUIZZES

TAKE THIS QUIZ IF A DAZZLING VOCABULARY IS YOUR DESIDERATUM!

Have the Words of the Day from October 19–25, 2020, made an indelible mark on your memory? Take the quiz to find out!
Question 1 of 7
What does “clement” mean?

Words nearby pull oneself up by the bootstraps

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