A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 06, 2012
“Back to the drawing board” (starting over after failure)

A drawing board is where plans are drawn up, such as the design for a new building, airplane or automobile. If that design fails, the designers have to go “back to the drawing board” to design something that works. The New Yorker magazine coined the phrase in its March 1, 1941 issue. A cartoon by Peter Arno (1904-1968) showed a downed airplane, with a designer speaking:

“WELL, BACK TO THE OLD DRAWING BOARD.”


Wiktionary: back to the drawing board
Etymology
Coined as “Well, back to the old drawing board.” as the caption of a Peter Arno cartoon of The New Yorker of March 1, 1941, depicting an engineer walking away from a crashed plane. (cartoon)
Adverb
back to the drawing board

1. (idiomatic) Back to the beginning following an unsuccessful attempt.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
colloq. phr. back to the drawing board: used after the failure of some enterprise, an invention, etc.
1965 New Yorker 6 Nov. 122 A fiery mushroom cloud, translatable by the most cretinous moviegoer as… ‘Back to the drawing board, you plucky amoebas!’
1968 Listener 2 May 562/3 The squeaking [of some newly designed chairs] as we rolled about was too much for the sound people. So again ordinary chairs replaced them. Back to the drawing-board, Byron.

Wikipedia: Peter Arno
Peter Arno (January 8, 1904 – February 22, 1968) was a U.S. cartoonist. His cartoons were published in The New Yorker from 1925–1968.

Biography
Born Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr. in New York, New York, and educated at the Hotchkiss School and Yale University, his cartoons were published in The New Yorker from 1925–1968

Google Books
13 October 1941, Life magazine, pg. 8:
SPEAKING OF PICTURES…
THE NEW YORKER’S PETER ARNO IS
TOP SATIRIST OF COSMOPOLITAN LIFE

Pg. 9:
“WELL, BACK TO THE OLD DRAWING BOARD.”

24 March 1942, Charleston (WV) Gazette, “I’d Rather Be Right” by Samuel Grafton, pg. 6, col. 2:
Back to the old drawing board. We’d better try again.

OCLC WorldCat record
“Back to the drawing board again”
Author: William Crawford Eddy
Publisher: Michigan City, Ind. : Television Associates of Indiana, 1962
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Back to the drawing-board?
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Public Health, v84 n6 (197009): 261-264
Database: CrossRef

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Thursday, December 06, 2012 • Permalink