boot·strap | \ˈbüt-ˌstrap \

Definition of bootstrap 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a looped strap sewed at the side or the rear top of a boot to help in pulling it on

2 bootstraps plural : unaided efforts often used in the phrase by one's own bootstraps



Definition of bootstrap (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : designed to function independently of outside direction : capable of using one internal function or process to control another a bootstrap operation to load a computer

2 : carried out with minimum resources or advantages bootstrap efforts


bootstrapped; bootstrapping

Definition of bootstrap (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to promote or develop by initiative and effort with little or no assistance bootstrapped herself to the top … turns out to be pretty talented at identifying and bootstrapping promising creative endeavors.— Harry McCracken

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Other Words from bootstrap


bootstrapper noun

Examples of bootstrap in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The debilitating after-effects of trauma are antithetical to the American idea that people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, Henry said. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trauma reaches beyond urban centers like Milwaukee, speaker says. Just look at border fiasco.," 20 June 2018 Though the sentiment was in the right place, the weekend got off to a rocky start, and on the second day pulled itself up from its bootstraps. Steven J. Horowitz, Billboard, "Kehlani, Tove Lo and Kim Petras Triumph at Pride LA 2018," 11 June 2018 But despite his flawed methodology, Fryer is a darling among the smart, white elite who point to him as a bootstrap-puller. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Black Harvard Professor, Often Cited to Discredit Black Lives Matter, Accused of Sexual Misconduct," 24 May 2018 In the researchers' experiments, their two magnetic field configurations were shown to suppress the bootstrap current to differing degrees, right in line with their model predictions. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Stellarator’s plasma results show a triumph of engineering and modeling," 23 May 2018 But neither DeWine nor Mandel had the by-the-bootstraps biography of Renacci, the first in his family to graduate from college -- and now, according to Roll Call, the 16th richest member of Congress. Stephen Koff,, "Jim Renacci wins U.S. Senate primary, setting up challenge to Sherrod Brown in the fall," 8 May 2018 His biography does not have any of the bootstraps appeal of a Lyndon Johnson, or even Mr. Cruz, the son of immigrant parents. Michael Tackett, New York Times, "The Lone Star Long Shot Who Wants to Topple Ted Cruz," 19 Feb. 2018 Bill Clinton pulled himself up by his bootstraps and was a young, exciting governor. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Former communications director for the Hillary Clinton campaign Jennifer Palmieri on Recode Decode," 12 Apr. 2018 Just gotta pick yourself up by your bootstraps and move on. Taylor Weatherby, Billboard, "Scotty McCreery Talks How New Album 'Seasons Change' Reflects His Life's Ups & Downs: 'I've Matured a Lot'," 19 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The first time Kia tried to bootstrap itself into the premium/entry luxury space was in 2012, with the K900 sedan. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2018 Kia Stinger GT2: The Best German Car to Come Out of South Korea," 6 Apr. 2018 On top of sweat equity, Markkula sunk a substantial portion of his personal wealth into Apple and helped persuade others to bootstrap the firm. Stephen Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age,’ by Leslie Berlin," 3 Nov. 2017 Immigrants, regardless of their merit coming in, tend to bootstrap themselves up in a remarkable way. Roger Showley,, "Merit-based immigration: Good idea?," 10 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bootstrap.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bootstrap


1875, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1951, in the meaning defined above

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Phrases Related to bootstrap

by one's own bootstraps

Statistics for bootstrap

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Time Traveler for bootstrap

The first known use of bootstrap was in 1875

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More Definitions for bootstrap



Financial Definition of bootstrap

What It Is

Bootstrapping refers to the efforts of an entrepreneur to start a business using his own assets as the source of capital.

Bootstrapping can also refer to a highly-leveraged transaction when an investor acquires a controlling interest in a company, financing the transaction by using the assets of the company as collateral for the loan.

How It Works

Entrepreneurs typically apply for a business loan from a commercial bank or seek funding from independent investors. An entrepreneur who risks their own money as an initial source of venture capital is bootstrapping.

For example, someone who starts a business using $100,000 of their own money is bootstrapping.

In a highly-leveraged transaction, an investor obtains a loan to buy an interest in the company. The investor uses the assets of the company they are about to purchase as collateral for the loan.

Why It Matters

Bootstrapping frees the entrepreneur from having to pay interest on a loan or from having to share any potential profits with other investors. However, entrepreneurship involves significant risk. When personal funds are used to finance a new business, the person stands to lose not only the time invested but their own money as well.

Bootstrapping in leveraged transactions is extremely risky since the potential investor is using the company’s assets to service their loan.

Source: Investing Answers

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a state of commotion or excitement

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