square one


Definition of 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

Mapping out city streets is essentially square one for testing self-driving cars — that’s a tough spot to be in as a company with serious ambitions for developing autonomous technology, especially in the face of tough competition. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Months after a self-driving crash, Uber is being slower and more deliberate as it gets back on public roads to test its technology," 24 July 2018 Voters harboring doubts could boot both measures and return the Mission Valley land to square one, swirling two years down the drain. Logan Jenkins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "3 judges on hot summer seats as stadium vote nears," 11 June 2018 That would just get TPP back to square one—the deal that Mr. Trump killed and that likely would have had difficulty getting through Congress. Bob Davis, WSJ, "U.S.’s Re-Entry in Pacific Trade Deal Would Come at a Price," 15 Apr. 2018 Jamaica won’t exactly be starting at square one — the same principles apply whether in an old sled or a new one. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Jamaican women will have to break in new bobsled on tricky Olympic track," 16 Feb. 2018 If Proposition 3 fails in November, the funding question goes back to square one. Dale Kasler And Phillip Reese, sacbee, "The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water," 13 July 2018 If the new policy is rejected by the courts, which the administration acknowledges is a possibility, the debate could move back to square one. Lisa Mascaro, chicagotribune.com, "Trump tweet complicates House GOP efforts to pass immigration legislation," 21 June 2018 If the new policy is rejected by the courts, which the administration acknowledges is a possibility, the debate could move back to square one. Lisa Mascaro, BostonGlobe.com, "House will delay vote on GOP compromise immigration bill until Friday," 21 June 2018 Two young entrepreneurs brought a sleek new food truck to their Overbrook Park neighborhood, but then a City Council amendment brought them back to square one. Aubrey Nagle, Philly.com, "Eagles react to NFL anthem rule, Atlantic City's first casino stays in the game | Morning Newsletter," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'square one.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of square one

1960, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for square one

from the use of numbered squares in some board games

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for square one

The first known use of square one was in 1960

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More Definitions for square one

square one


English Language Learners Definition of square one

: the beginning stage or starting point

Comments on square one

What made you want to look up square one? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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