boot·​strap | \ ˈbüt-ˌstrap How to pronounce bootstrap (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bootstrap


bootstrapper noun

Examples of bootstrap in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Flux is also used for reconciling and upgrading the clusters provisioned through the EKS Anywhere bootstrap cluster. Janakiram Msv, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 For over 15 years, Richard Montañez told a tale of bootstrap hustle so incredible that few ever doubted it. Los Angeles Times, 18 May 2021 The sacrifice and struggle associated with accomplishment are part of the puritan work ethic, bootstrap-it-up mythology many of us have been marinating in since birth, both in our culture and in our family of origin. Lisa Earle Mcleod, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2021 The Atlanta shootings reveal a different narrative: how class complications are often left out of the bootstrap-lifting immigrant success story. Jennifer Hope Choi, Star Tribune, 23 Mar. 2021 Texas’s bootstrap mentality still holds in many quarters. Washington Post, 5 Mar. 2021 Moreover, Baker believes bootstrap entrepreneurs, disproportionately women and minorities, drive the commercial revival of cities and inner-ring suburbs. Neal St. Anthony Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 5 Dec. 2020 Two years ago, Democrat Joanna Cattanach came within 220 votes of unseating Meyer with a bootstrap campaign that coincided with a blue wave that flipped 12 seats in the Texas House. James Barragán, Dallas News, 19 Nov. 2020 By the bootstraps Once a bootstrap process begins, the node is now reachable by other nodes on the IPFS network. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 16 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hence this is not the ideal business where leaders should try and bootstrap the initiative. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Crt deniers are asking us to ask this young person to bootstrap their way out of the public policies and practices that were designed to favor one race over another for generations. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 23 June 2021 Evolution doesn’t proceed according to a plan, and often has to bootstrap its way out of problems of its own making. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 5 May 2021 Carefully manage the cash and bootstrap your business to avoid business failure in the first couple of years. Melissa Houston, Forbes, 7 Apr. 2021 But most new entrepreneurs don’t have this luxury and need to bootstrap their development and growth. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 25 Feb. 2021 The goal was to bootstrap supply side liquidity, allowing the protocols to grow. Leeor Shimron, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2021 Can’t free enterprise bootstrap truly world-changing new tech all on its own? Clive Thompson, Wired, 17 Jan. 2021 To bootstrap the process, the first-year projects come with a theme and a structure that helps the students write their learning agreement. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, 29 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Buying Guide

Our team at The Usage has selected the best running shoes of 2021.

Learn More About bootstrap

Time Traveler for bootstrap

Time Traveler

The first known use of bootstrap was in 1875

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near bootstrap

boots and saddles


boot top

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bootstrap

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bootstrap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!