back to square one

Explanation: What is an idiom?

back to the beginning


"How's your back George?"

"Oh, not so good."

"You seem a bit stiff. I thought things were going well."

"Yeah, well I saw that back doctor."

"Osteopath, you mean,"

"Yeah, my back doctor. He was great. He told me right away what the problem was, and said I shouldn't lift anything for a month."

"Well, I could have told you that."

"Yeah, and he gave me all these exercises to do. It was coming along nicely, and then one day, I got out of the car, and snap! It went again. Back to square one. Cor, it was painful."

"You should have asked me to help you."

"Oh, so you're an expert on backs as well as names of doctors?"

"Yeah. There's one thing you can take for a bad back that works wonders."

"What's that then?"

"Lager, and it's your round..."


This phrase was originally used in radio commentaries of football matches. Football isn't easy to commentate on on the radio so they had the idea of splitting up the field into numbered squares so that listeners could be told where the ball was. Whenever the game restarted after a break it was back to square one.

Category: b,numbers

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