pull yourself up by your bootstraps

pull (oneself) up by (one's) (own) bootstraps

To improve one's life or circumstances through one's own efforts, rather than relying on others. After I declared bankruptcy, I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and rebuild my financial standing. Whenever I hear someone say that poor people just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, I remind them that a lot of people don't have boots.
See also: bootstrap, by, pull, up

pull yourself up by your bootstraps

If someone pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, they improve their situation by their own efforts. Note: Bootstraps are straps attached to a boot which you use for pulling it on. It was his ability to pull himself up by his bootstraps which appealed to his boss. Note: Verbs such as haul, pick and lift are sometimes used instead of pull. Lift yourself up by the bootstraps, young fellow. Make yourself upwardly mobile.
See also: bootstrap, by, pull, up

drag/pull yourself up by your (own) ˈbootstraps

(informal) improve your situation yourself, without help from other people: Nobody helped her get where she is today — she pulled herself up by her own bootstraps.
See also: bootstrap, by, drag, pull, up

pull yourself up by your bootstraps

To succeed through hard work. Before zippers made getting into tall boots less of a chore, such footwear had leather attachments by which the wearer would pull them on (Western boots and some English riding dress boots still have them). Trying to raise yourself off the ground by pulling on your bootstraps sounds impossible . . . and it is (don't try it—you'll throw out your back). Therefore to pull yourself up by your bootstraps is to achieve your goals through as much hard work as levitating yourself would take.
See also: bootstrap, by, pull, up
References in periodicals archive ?
But a footballing squad of Scottish street merchants has shown us how you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and conquer the world, if you really try.
His self-help project, PUSH for Excellence (PUSH Excel), founded four years before Ronald Reagan would campaign for president under the same "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" theme in 1980, attracted millions in federal dollars, thanks to former Vice President Hubert H.