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(computer science)
The procedures for making a computer or a program function through its own actions.
A technique or device designed to bring itself into a desired state by means of its own action.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(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.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


A boot causes the computer to start executing instructions. PCs and Macs contain built-in instructions in a ROM or flash memory chip that are automatically executed on startup. These instructions search for the operating system, load it and pass control to it. Booting a computer today means turning it on or selecting Restart. In the early days of computing, booting required pressing several buttons at the console.

Put Your Boots On!
The term comes from "bootstrap." Since bootstraps help you get your boots on, booting the computer helps it get its first instructions. The term is often used erroneously for application software. For example, you might hear someone say "let's boot Excel," whereas the correct usage is "launch Excel" or "load Excel." See cold boot, warm boot, clean boot, boot loader and first boot sequence.

You Need Help to Get Started
System Commander was an earlier boot manager that allowed users to install any number of different operating systems on their PCs. On startup, this menu let you choose your OS. (Screen shot courtesy of V Communications, Inc.)

All the Boots You'll Ever Need
System Commander was an earlier boot manager that allowed users to install any number of different operating systems on their PCs. On startup, this menu let you choose your OS. (Screen shot courtesy of V Communications, Inc.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
Berwick, who looked doomed a few short weeks ago, have hauled themselves up by the boot straps and out of the bottom two, but they will have their work cut out to improve on their recent record when they travel to take on top of the table Stocksfield.
When she was chosen to join Girls Aloud, she was the tough one, the no-nonsense tattooed estate girl from Newcastle who had pulled herself up by her high-heeled boot straps and fought for a chance of a new life.
It'll be all hands to the decks, after all, to drag us up by our boot straps.
"And, from our perspective, where they are failing, or not performing as well as they could do, there is no real mechanism to pull them up by their boot straps."
The Kiwi has dragged a bunch of no-hopers up by their boot straps to play with pride, passion and no little skill, emerging as a genuine challenge to everyone.
Now we are exporting our expertise in pulling ourselves up by the boot straps.''
If we dragged ourselves up by our boot straps, and went all out for independence rather than watered-down devolution, we could afford, from our own resources, to electrify the Cardiff Valleys network.
Perhaps a Sir John Harvey Jonestype character could be found to pull Royal Mail up by the boot straps.
These people who moaned about Manchester getting everything are now moaning aswe are pulling ourselves up by our boot straps and turning our fortunes around.
We no longer need to paint ourselves as a region hauling itself up by the boot straps.
Moffett has dragged Welsh rugby up by its boot straps over the past three, dynamic years.