pull oneself up by the bootstraps

Idioms & Phrases

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]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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