We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Back to Square One" Mean?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Back to square one" is an idiomatic expression that has to do with starting over after some attempt to accomplish a specific task or goal has failed to produce the desired results. The idiom is used in a number of settings, including in reference to relationship issues, project management tasks, and even in the operation of a business or non-profit organization. There is a difference of opinion on just how this particular English saying entered into the popular vernacular, with some explanations having to do with games.

One popular origin for back to square one has to do with the game of hopscotch. This popular children’s game required the creation of a series of squares, with each square containing a number. As part of the game, a participant must traverse the grid of squares, eventually making the way back to the home square of one, where it is possible to start all over again.

Another idea o the origin of back to square one also revolves around a children’s game known as Chutes and Ladders. With this board game, landing on a square that is connected with a slide may either cause the player to go back a level, or in the case of a few squares return the player all the way to the first square on the board. Critics of this explanation note that the phrase had been popular for a number of years before this particular board game was developed, although there is some merit in seeing the game as being one means of increasing the popularity of the idiom.

Whatever the origins of back to square one, the phrase is used in a variety of situations today. When a relationship fails, the two parties sometimes see themselves as starting over again with new partners. In the workplace, employees may be back to square one after an attempt to complete an assigned tasks fails, making it necessary to begin once more. Today, students who use word processing programs to write term papers may also find themselves going back to square one if they don’t save the document from time to time and the system shuts down unexpectedly. While going back to square one usually implies some type of previous failure, it also implies the chance to put the past behind and enjoy a fresh start, something that is often a desirable situation.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including Language & Humanities, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.