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[boot-strap] /ˈbutˌstræp/
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.
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), bootstrapped, bootstrapping.
Computers. boot1 (def 24).
to help (oneself) without the aid of others:
She spent years bootstrapping herself through college.
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.
1890-95; boot1 + strap Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bootstrap
  • Without a lot of start-up capital, you have to bootstrap your way at every step.
  • Imagine getting paid to do other people's experiments one day a week, and then using that money to bootstrap your own research.
  • The big governments have held back, waiting to see what would happen, and nobody's been able to bootstrap a system.
  • Even some of the bloggers we've come to admire as bootstrap-heroes are in truth products of the farm club.
  • Or mix up some chemicals in my kitchen and bootstrap a pharmaceutical company.
  • Thus the old hadron bootstrap theory was resurrected in string theory.
  • Life functions by creating and consuming itself in a bootstrap process.
  • Resampling with a bootstrap or jackknife algorithm creates multiple samples from a single sample.
  • The bootstrap percentile method did not adjust for the statistical estimation bias.
British Dictionary definitions for bootstrap


a leather or fabric loop on the back or side of a boot for pulling it on
by one's bootstraps, by one's own bootstraps, by one's own efforts; unaided
(modifier) self-acting or self-sufficient, as an electronic amplifier that uses its output voltage to bias its input
  1. 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
  2. (as modifier): a bootstrap loader
(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
verb (transitive) -straps, -strapping, -strapped
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
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Word Origin and History for bootstrap

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
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bootstrap in Technology

operating system, compiler
To load and initialise the operating system on a computer. Normally abbreviated to "boot". From the curious expression "to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps", one of the legendary feats of Baron von Munchhausen. The bootstrap loader is the program that runs on the computer before any (normal) program can run. Derived terms include reboot, cold boot, warm boot, soft boot and hard boot.
The term also applies to the use of a compiler to compile itself. The usual process is to write an interpreter for a language, L, in some other existing language. The compiler is then written in L and the interpreter is used to run it. This produces an executable for compiling programs in L from the source of the compiler in L. This technique is often used to verify the correctness of a compiler. It was first used in the LISP community.
See also My Favourite Toy Language.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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