Today I was reading an article in The Register, and I noticed this unusual usage:
I've never seen a footnote called a bootnote before.
The OED doesn't list it, and using OneLook to search over a hundred dictionaries only results in 4 hits, 3 of which redirect, without comment, to footnote, and one which is a false positive¹. Etymonline likewise comes up dry.
Lest anyone jump the gun, this usage is intentional, not a typo, at least in the case of The Register, as Josh and Chris point out in the comments. And while both the BNC and COCA corpora find no hits, nor Google nGram Viewer, the GLoWBE comes back with a few, suggesting that the usage is probably does not predate the internet, but is seeing growth and adoption on it, at least among BrE speakersbn.
Morphologically, it makes sense: a boot, like a foot, comes at the bottom. But whence this usage?
Who uses it, and when is it used in preference for the more common footnote? Is it merely a Register thing? A broader BrE thing²?
What are its origins? Who used it first, and when? Do we know why? Simply a more colorful or cutesy synonym for footnote? Originally a serendipitous, one-letter typographical error for footnote, which happened to make sense and stuck?
Are there any publications which use both footnote and bootnote? If so, what are the nuances between them? Is it something as silly as a bootnote goes "over" a footnote as a boot goes "over" a foot?
¹ To the Wordnik, which usually captures unusual words with more flavor, simply says "no entry" and notes the word has only been looked up ~200 times.
² There's an identical usage in the Geekzone, which has a
.nz TLD, so presumably the writer speaks AusE, which hews relatively close to BrE. But there's no way of knowing if this particular non-Register usage was influenced by The Register, or indeed if it's an innocent typo. But it's evidence of use outside The Register either way.
BOOTNOTE: To be fair, I haven't actually dug into any of those citations to determine if they are all, in fact, from the Register itself.