1. (From "to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps") To load and initialise the operating system on a computer. Normally abbreviated to "boot".
See bootstrap loader.
2. (From "to pull oneself up by one's bootstraps") to use a compiler to compile itself.
The usual process is to write an interpreter for a language, L, in an existing language, M. 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.
(27 November 1995)