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Occasionally, something will happen during gameplay that will cause the player to move back to the starting position, which is often a square. This first square is called square one , and, in board games, going back to square one literally means to go back to the beginning. This explanation seems reasonable, especially because the growth in the popularity of this expression matches the growth of the popularity of board games over the same period of time.

Back to Square One

Here is an example of the idiom being used by two college friends who are discussing a class project they are working on. Frank: What are you talking about? What made you want to look up go back to square one? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible.

Idiom of the Day

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Whether it's a jaunt or a junket, remember sunblock. You all would not have guessed some of these.

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

Some imitative words are more surprising than others. How to use a word that literally drives some people nuts.

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The awkward case of 'his or her'. It's a bird?


It's a plane? Of the many examples of such boards that exist, only a few have a snake in the first square.

What is the origin of the phrase "back to square one?" | Notes and Queries |

For the phrase to have come from that source people must have had occasion to use it, and that appears not to be the case with Snakes and Ladders. This playground game is played on a grid of numbered squares. The precise rules of the game vary from place to place but it usually involves players hopping from square to square, missing out the square containing their thrown stone.

They go from one to usually eight or ten and then back to square one.

Back to Square One (Origin)

The game's name derives from 'scotch', which was used from the 17th century to denote a line scored on the ground and, of course, hopping. It was referred to in the edition of Robert Winstanley's satirical almanac Poor Robin :. Each of the above three explanations is plausible enough to gain supporters.

NUMHAUSER 45 - Back To Square One (Official Video)

As is usual with phrases of uncertain origin, most people are happy to believe the first explanation they hear. There's no real evidence to put the origin beyond reasonable doubt, and so it remains uncertain. Whatever the source, is surprisingly late as the earliest printing for a phrase that was certainly in the spoken language much earlier than that and there are many hearsay examples from at least thirty years earlier.