back to square one

back to square one

Meaning

  • return to where one started from
  • back to the beginning
  • return to the starting point, start all over again
  • start again from the beginning because previous attempt failed

Example Sentences

  1. The Government and the State Bank spent years strengthening the nation’s economy but the recession and slowdown shattered it, so we are back to square one.
  2. Having tried to solve the problem for quite some time, we were back to square one when none of our solutions worked.
  3. The local authorities had repaired the roads a few month ago, but heavy rains damaged them again, so we are back to square one.
  4. The opposing parties had been trying to come to a compromise, but when the negotiations broke down, they were back to square one.
  5. The police haven’t made any breakthroughs in solving the crime. Their investigation led them to a dead end, so now they are back to square one.
  6. If they do not accept our proposal, we will be back to square one.

Origin
The origin of the phrase is uncertain, however, there are some theories which, though interesting, are not conclusive. One theory is that it originated from BBC radio commentaries. Early football commentaries helped listeners follow the game by dividing the field into eight rectangles, which were called squares, and the commentators would describe the play by saying which square the ball was in. Another theory is that the phrase originated from the board game Snakes and Ladders, another states that it was from the game Hopscotch.

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