bootstrapper, bootstrapping (1927)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Aug 11 06:45:24 UTC 2005

OED has 1958 for "bootstrap" (v.), 1960 for "bootstrapping" (vbl. n.), and
nothing for "bootstrapper". MWCD11 lists "bootstrap" (v.) from 1951 and
includes "bootstrapper" in the entry.

Chicago Tribune, 19 Oct 1927, p. 10/2
Editorial of the Day. The Bootstrapper.
[I.A.R. Wylie, in The Sunday Times, London.]
The great American ideal is that everybody should become something he is
not. The great American tragedy is to remain what you are. Resulting from
this theory of progress and happiness is the phenomenon of the American
Now, every one has heard of the American bootlegger. But the bootstrapper
is an even greater national figure, just as the feat of "lifting oneself
by one's bootstraps" is an almost entirely American accomplishment.
There is this further disadvantage, speaking nationally, that there are
more second rate people in first class positions than there ought to be.
This is all right so long as there is plenty of room for the first rate
man who has no capacity for bootstrapping and so long as there is no
sudden crisis.

--Ben Zimmer

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