Back-to-square-one definitions

(idiomatic) Located back at the start, as after a dead-end or failure.

After spending six hours on the intake we realized that there was nothing wrong with it, so we are back to square one.

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(idiomatic) Back to the start, as after a dead-end or failure.

After spending six hours on the intake we realized that there was nothing wrong with it, so we went back to square one.

adverb
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Origin of back-to-square-one

1952, from children’s game snakes and ladders, possibly influenced by hopscotch.