Posted by Masakim on March 07, 2002
In Reply to: "......to boot." posted by Q on March 07, 2002
: I was reading a "Remeber When" story and came across an interesting phrase. I cut the portion and pasted it here to best describe how it was used.
: "Remeber when you got your windshield cleaned,
oil checked and gas pumped without asking, all for free, every time, and, you
didn't pay for air, and you
: got trading stamps to boot."
: Anyone know the "to boot" origin? Thanks.
Richard Cole writes:
Whence "to boot," in the sense of "in addition to the foregoing," or "besides the above"?
E.g.: "I got my shoes polished and bought new laces to boot."
First let's change your sample sentence to something less confusing: "I got a tank of gas and had my windows washed to boot."
Now, we can all shout together what you know the explanation is going to be: "There are several different words boot." The one in "to boot" is no relation to the one referring a piece of footwear, which is why I suggested changing your example.
The most common boot in English is certainly the one whose main sense is 'a covering for the foot that reaches to the ankle or higher'. This boot is a fourteenth-century borrowing from Middle French; the ultimate origin is uncertain.
The boot in your question is pretty much the only surviving sense of a once prominent word. Some archaic or obsolete senses are 'advantage; profit; use' ("O spare they happy daies, and them apply/To better boot"--Spenser, Faerie Queen); 'something given in a sale or exchange to equalize the value of the exchange' (now only used in dialect, in America found chiefly in the south); and 'deliverance from evil or danger' (often in the phrase boot of bale 'relief from woe').
The phrase to boot uses this word, in a sense like 'to the good; to advantage', and hence 'in addition; besides; moreover'. This particular boot is from Old English, and is related to better.
One other boot is an archaic word for 'booty; spoil; plunder', probably from the boot above influenced by booty, and another is 'the act of booting a computer', ultimately a shortening of bootstrap.
From The Mavens' Word of the Day (Sep 28, 1998)