I encountered this usage:

We can do massive training closer to the operator on a smartphone, using their own device, right now, we’re doing tests in plants, so people have boots and computers and they can test themselves.

Here, they are talking about technological improvements that could help making work easier.

I only find one meaning of boot in dictionaries regarding the technological context: The process of starting a computer and putting it into a state of readiness for operation (Oxford Dictionary). However, I think that this meaning is not referred to this context.

Do you know any other meaning of boots that could fit this context?

Some context of the source text, this is what the member says right before:

Last year, I told you about the digital learning lab we had created, the platform and that we started 30 online training modules that were accessible on computers, in English only, for M&Ps. This year, we have something accessible to everybody with an email account, around 45 000 people and this is growing daily.

This year we have about 130 digital trainings, we hope to include operators next year. We are now moving to other languages than English, though most of those in the Group and trainings are now available on iPad, computers, iPhones, without a password, people can train themselves on their mobiles.

I believe we now have an infrastructure that gives full access to 45 000 people, the goal for 2019 is for everybody to have access.

We are really ahead of the competition, we are really pushing the game ahead in terms of massive access.

  • Please give more context. Particularly good would be a link. Jul 28, 2018 at 10:09
  • 3
    So there is no web source? The capitalisation of "Group" and use of "trainings" suggests a non-native English speaker, so possibly 'boots' is a mistranslation from a word in another language, or maybe a typo (books?) . There is no obvious meaning for 'boots' in that context. Jul 28, 2018 at 11:21
  • 4
    This can't be right. Where do your quotes come from? Trainings, for example, is so non-standard as to be wrong.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 28, 2018 at 11:27
  • 1
    tests in plants =tests in factories? so you would need boots to be safe. I guess my particular profession makes stuff jump out at me. But yes, trainings with an s is totally grrrh. :) That said: operator on a smartphone sounds weird. And "member" of what exactly?
    – Lambie
    Jul 28, 2018 at 16:37
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    @MichaelHarvey Not a native speaker, or maybe just someone who works in marketing! "Group" may be capitalised because it is short for a proper noun (eg "the VW Group") and "trainings" may be shorthand/jargon for "trying sessions". It sounds like transcribed speech, so you would expect some informality and language errors. Presumably "boots" was a transcription error, rather than a production error.
    – user184130
    Jul 29, 2018 at 8:18

3 Answers 3


I believe the word boot in the quote is nothing but a simple misspelling of booth:

A booth is a small area separated from a larger public area by screens or thin walls where, for example, people can make a phone call or vote in private.

Another word for the booths in the quote may be cubicles.

  • Plausible. There isn't really any way of deciding between this and boot (or something else completely).
    – user184130
    Jul 28, 2018 at 13:58
  • or ot could be a misspelling of bots or who knows hwhat Jul 28, 2018 at 17:44
  • @user The difference being that booths fits semantically in the given sentence and context, whereas bots, or _who knows hwhat_(?) does not.
    – oerkelens
    Jul 29, 2018 at 7:34
  • Are we talking about 'cubicles' here, maybe? Jul 29, 2018 at 8:37
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes, that's another word for them.
    – oerkelens
    Jul 29, 2018 at 17:13

After some cursory research, I did find a word that might be applicable, though it is quite a stretch.

According to MW, the word boot is a term in botany, which means:

a sheath enclosing the inflorescence

This is supported by Wikitionary, which defines the word as:

The inflated flag leaf sheath of a wheat plant.

The quote states:

we’re doing tests in plants

If the interpretation of the word plants is to be taken literally, as in a noun that denotes a type of living organism, then the entire sentence makes a bit more sense.

But here's the thing: nowhere in the quote did it mention anything botany in theme, or even anything else regarding plants. Additionally, the aforementioned meaning of boot is one that belongs to specialized teaching materials, scientific papers or highly technical lectures, not ramblings about training methods. This further supports my belief that the word was simply a mistake - one that either originates from a translation error or a gross misunderstanding of the word. So take this answer with a grain of salt.

  • Kudos for imaginative thinking, but no upvote. Sorry. :)
    – user184130
    Jul 28, 2018 at 13:28
  • Understandable, considering the fact that it's too obscure of a word to be used in such a quote. I don't think this question can be answered definitively, at all. The only person who knows the answer is the one directly responsible for the quote, and no one else. I'd suggest putting this question on hold.
    – VTH
    Jul 28, 2018 at 13:56
  • +1 for the attempt; it's better than writing a spurious answer as a joke, which passed through my mind Jul 28, 2018 at 17:42
  • I'm not sure that there is a botanical context. I read 'plants' as meaning industrial installations. This sounds very likely for specialised in-house training in a large organisation.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 29, 2018 at 18:16

Another possibility is that this isn't a typo for a word other than boots but a shortening of the phrase boots on the ground.

From Grammarist:

Boots on the ground refers to active ground troops in a military campaign, men or women who are physically present and fighting in a war zone.

In other words, the passage could be indicating that there are knowledgeable people on the floor (trainers with "boots on the ground") along with computers, both of which can be used to help with instruction and in-house testing.

But whatever it's intention really is, the writing is unclear.

  • 1
    "knowledgeable people on the floor (trainers with "boots on the ground") " - floorwalkers we call these in the UK. I recently found myself showing one how to do his job when we went to Windows 10 at work. Jul 29, 2018 at 8:39

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