1 of 3


boot·​strap ˈbüt-ˌstrap How to pronounce bootstrap (audio)
: a looped strap sewed at the side or the rear top of a boot to help in pulling it on
bootstraps plural : unaided efforts
often used in the phrase by one's own bootstraps


2 of 3


: 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
: carried out with minimum resources or advantages
bootstrap efforts


3 of 3


bootstrapped; bootstrapping

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
bootstrapper noun

Examples of bootstrap in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Bootstrap, bootstrap, bootstrap Bootstrapping means minimizing operational expenses. Virginia H, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024 In the hands of the endlessly inventive comedian, the tale of a boy who pulls himself up by his bootstraps and seeks out fame and fortune becomes a madcap delight complete with a zingy script, cartoonish punch-ups, collapsing sets, and a heady dose of magical realism. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 22 Feb. 2024 His bootstraps ascension story has been one of struggles overcome, mistakes owned, self-doubt always lingering. Time, 13 Nov. 2023 Check Your Numbers Early-stage startups, especially those that bootstrap, can starve to death for lack of cash flow. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Or maybe also like an American ideal of pulling up yourself by your bootstraps. Hazlitt, 27 Sep. 2023 The seasoned group of directors traded stories about working at New World under Corman, whose improvisational, bootstraps temperament fostered a training ground for young talent to learn the ropes of filmmaking and get a crash course in cinema history. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 1 Oct. 2023 The successful Latino pulls himself up by his bootstraps, loves and serves his country, and seeks to enrich it with his contributions. J.p Brammer, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2023 Within months, the new justice enjoyed a far-warmer acceptance to a second exclusive club: the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, named for the Gilded Age author whose rags-to-riches novels represented an aspirational version of Justice Thomas’s own bootstraps origin story. Steve Eder, New York Times, 9 July 2023
The bootstrap origin story of the man who allegedly invented the cult-favorite snack Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is being told in a new feature film directed by actress and Corpus Christi native Eva Longoria. Gabriella Ybarra, San Antonio Express-News, 16 Mar. 2023
Here are their 5 strategies to bootstrap to billions. Dileep Rao, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 This will allow researchers to generate significantly more real-world data for direct use or to bootstrap machine learning techniques. Dina Genkina, Ars Technica, 24 Aug. 2023 One model’s conversations can even bootstrap another’s: it’s been claimed that rivals to ChatGPT, such as Google Bard, finished their training by consuming ChatGPT transcripts that had been posted online. James Somers, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2023 The data gave Google just enough momentum to bootstrap its own reviews product. James Somers, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2023 Spectral Finance, for example, is helping users bootstrap digital credit scores to unlock financial services. Alex Tapscott, Fortune Crypto, 17 Sep. 2023 Left to bootstrap themselves up, its characters warp their identities and rent themselves out to stay afloat. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 17 Aug. 2023 Its founders decided to bypass any outside funding and bootstrap the company all the way to a $12 billion acquisition. Oleg Netepenko, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2023 The theory thus bootstraps time from a timeless universe. Steven Carlip, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2015

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bootstrap.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



boot entry 3 + strap entry 1


from attributive use of bootstrap entry 1


derivative of bootstrap entry 1 or bootstrap entry 2

First Known Use


1875, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1951, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bootstrap was in 1875

Dictionary Entries Near bootstrap

Cite this Entry

“Bootstrap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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