Back to Square One (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Back to Square One"?

The phrase back to square one means to start again from the original start point.

Back to square one (or back at square one — the original saying) derives from football radio commentaries in the 1930s. Commentators would mentally divide the football pitch into numbered grids and use the numbers to explain the position of play. Square one was in front of the home team's goal. As the number increased, so the areas moved up the pitch. When there was a goal kick by the home team, play could be described as being back at square one.

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Back to Square One (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • After weeks of planning, they realized their approach was flawed and they had to go back to square one.
  • The project faced unexpected challenges, forcing them to abandon their progress and start back at square one.
  • Despite their efforts, negotiations fell through and they had to go back to square one in finding a solution.
  • They thought they had found a suitable location, but due to zoning issues, they were forced to go back to square one in their search for a site.
  • After receiving feedback from users, they realized the design needed significant revisions, sending them back to square one.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.