back to square one

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back to square one

Back to the very first stage of something; returned to an initial starting point. We'll have to go back to square one if the government pulls our funding on this project. Yet another relationship down the tubes. I guess I'm back to square one yet again!
See also: back, one, square

back to square one

Fig. back to the beginning. (As with a board game.) Negotiations have broken down, and it's back to square one. We lost our appeal of the lower court decision, so back to square one.
See also: back, one, square

back to square one

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back at square one

COMMON If someone is back to square one or back at square one, they have failed completely in what they were trying to do, and now have to start again. The treatment failed and I was back to square one. But now, after their appeal, the investigation is back at square one. Note: You can also say that you start or start something from square one. The new board will apparently be starting from square one. Note: This expression may refer to board games where the players move counters along a series of squares, and sometimes have to start again at the beginning.
See also: back, one, square

back to square one

back to the starting point, with no progress made.
Square one may be a reference to a board game such as Snakes and Ladders, or may come from the notional division of a football pitch into eight numbered sections for the purpose of early radio commentaries.
See also: back, one, square

back to square one

phr. back to the beginning. (Often with go.) We’ve got to get this done without going back to square one.
See also: back, one, square