to boot

Kristen: I stumbled into here looking for the origins of... the phrase "to boot" as in "I will sell you the computer and I will throw in the monitor to boot". Can anyone help me out? Thanks much.
Dave Brown: My understanding of the origin of "To Boot" refers to a trading term where someone negotiating with another for an item would offer their boots in addition to cash to close a deal. This terminology has also been included in our tax code to refer to non-cash compensation in a transaction.

Terry O'Connor: Matt King also asked about "to boot" in a private Email. "To boot" has nothing to do with footware, or with the British "boot" as in "trunk of a car". The boot one puts on one's foot come from the French "bote", possibly via Old Norse; the boot of a car is linked with "botte", also French, relating to the servants who perched outside carriages while the gentry travelled in comfort. Incidentally when I was living in Germany I once watched a driver take off in his car with the boot/trunk open. An Englishman on the scene tried to help by yelling to the driver: "Die Stiefel, die Stiefel!" The literal translation of "boot" into German did nothing to help the situation. "Boot" in the sense you asked about comes from the Old English "bot", meaning "advantage" or "remedy". This in turn came from the Germanic "bat-", from which we also get "better" and "best". And you always wondered why "good" transmogrified into "better" and "best". I had never considered it before, but the Australian slang term "bot", meaning "scrounge" might have the same origin. If you successfully bot something you have gained an advantage, no? Eric Partridge reckoned this came from "bot-fly", an annoying Australian insect rather like a horse fly, but then Partridge was a Kiwi...
Hope this helps -- Terry


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