back to square one

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English[edit]

Snakes send one back to square one

Etymology[edit]

Possibly from either of the children’s games hopscotch or snakes and ladders.[1][2]

Adjective[edit]

back to square one (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Located back at the start, as after a dead-end or failure.
    After spending six hours on the intake we realized that there was nothing wrong with it, so we are back to square one.
    • 1952 Edward Maurice Hugh-Jones, The Economic Journal,The American Economy, 1860–1940. by A. J. Youngson Brown”, p. 411:
      Withal he has the problem of maintaining the interest of the reader who is always being sent back to square one in a sort of intellectual game of snakes and ladders.

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

back to square one (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic) Back to the start, as after a dead-end or failure.
    After spending six hours on the intake we realized that there was nothing wrong with it, so we went back to square one.

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Extract revised for OED Online: square one”, in Oxford English Dictionary[1], January 2006, archived from the original on 16 March 2006.
  2. ^ Back to square one” in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder, 1997–, retrieved 26 February 2017.

Further reading[edit]