Blowing Up On Square One

For the latest installment in my series of griping about people mis-using cliches, I thought I’d tackle square one versus ground zero.

square1Now, obviously, square one is where you start.  Everyone knows this, but irritatingly, no one knows why (I actually thought it had something to do with chess, though now that I stop and think about it, I can’t imagine why).  It seems to me, we should borrow a page from land surveying, and just go with good old POB (Point Of Beginning).




groundzeroGround zero, on the other hand, is not where something starts, it is where something explodes.  So in a sense, it is an end point, not a start point.  But even 9/11 has not stopped people from conflating it with square one.  I’d sort of gotten used to this, until the other night when I heard someone use both phrases to mean the same thing in the space of thirty seconds.  That just won’t stand.

~ by smwilliams on February 28, 2013.

2 Responses to “Blowing Up On Square One”

  1. Didn’t square one come from hopscotch? That’s what I always thought.

    In regards to Ground Zero being the beginning, that’s a little new to me. As a former wildland fire professional, I’ve always associated Ground Zero as meaning the point of a conflagration (or explosion or whatever). Which, in the case of a fire, can be a start, so that may be where the confusion comes from?

  2. Apparently “square one” is like “the whole nine yards”, in that it has about 20 possible origins, but no one can prove any of them.

    As for “ground zero”, I don’t know why anyone confuses it with the definition of “square one”. At least wildfires can be said to start somewhere and go somewhere else, unlike explosions.

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