Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

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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