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Back to the Drawing Board

Back to the Drawing Board

Back to square one! Back to ground zero! Oh wait… we probably shouldn’t define one idiom with another. Whoops! Anyway, if you’ve ever been working on a project or classwork, only to have an idea fail or find that your entire plan was unsuccessful, then you know what it’s like to have to reevaluate your ideas and start over completely. We call this going “back to the drawing board.”  At Apto, when we are designing software, we frequently have ideas that sound fantastic in theory, but find they don’t work well at all once you begin scoping a plan or developing code – and in these cases, we have to go “back to the drawing board” and look for a better way to accomplish or goal.

Instead of turning to our trusty Free Dictionary for additional information on this week’s idiom, we’d like to share the history of this interesting idiom AND introduce you to another resource that might help you in your English language learning – The Phrase Finder. This site has lots of fun information, but keep in mind it is a British site and therefore focuses on British English – not American.

According to Phrase Finder, “Back to the Drawing Board (click to go to site)” was first used by the US military in the 1940s to describe when a design plan had gone wrong, and the architect had to physically go back to the drawing board to redo the design plans!


Start again on a new design or plan after the failure of an earlier attempt.