square one


: the initial stage or starting point
the failure set us back to square one

Examples of square one in a Sentence

They lost everything and found themselves back at square one.
Recent Examples on the Web Going back to square one may sound simple, but the tax system is rigid and rarely simple. Robert W. Wood, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 The square one is the S23 Ultra; the other two are the S23 and S23 Plus. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, 30 Oct. 2023 Now $44 million and four years later, the cars are gone and the city is back to square one. Ari Plachta, Sacramento Bee, 7 Mar. 2024 The bill’s failure sends Republicans who would still like to see limits to mail-in voting back to square one with four weeks left in the legislative session. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 5 Mar. 2024 This isn’t the first time that switching insurance companies set Hwang back to square one. Quinn Clark, Journal Sentinel, 26 Feb. 2024 Mavis starts at square one, moving into a tiny apartment with an eccentric New York City roommate and building her brand from the ground up. Maya Phillips, New York Times, 3 Dec. 2023 The 81-42 vote, which fell 3 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance the override, sends GOP lawmakers back to square one in their standoff with Kelly over taxes. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 20 Feb. 2024 Now, Memphis is back to square one with Morant once again on the sidelines. Sean Neumann, Peoplemag, 9 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'square one.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from the use of numbered squares in some board games

First Known Use

1960, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of square one was in 1960

Dictionary Entries Near square one

Cite this Entry

“Square one.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/square%20one. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

square one

: the first stage or starting point
back to square one

More from Merriam-Webster on square one

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