ice·​break·​er | \ ˈīs-ˌbrā-kər How to pronounce icebreaker (audio) \

Definition of icebreaker

1 : a ship equipped (as with a reinforced bow) to make and maintain a channel through ice
2 : something that is done or said to get through the first difficulties in starting a conversation or discussion Roughly half of all Americans are invested in the market these days, and stock holdings have replaced politics, weather and sports as the go-to conversational icebreaker.— Adam Bryant … she also pays particular attention to icebreakers that relax guests and get them rubbing elbows, such as a cruise up the Colorado River, where guests nibble on hors d'oeuvres and sip Fall Creek wines.— Steve Heimoff — see also break the ice at break entry 1

Examples of icebreaker in a Sentence

using an old joke as a conversational icebreaker

Recent Examples on the Web

But in 2017, as seasonal ice receded amid rising global temperatures, a tanker cleared the route without an icebreaker for the first time ever. NBC News, "Russia's 'floating Chernobyl' nuclear plant begins voyage north," 23 Aug. 2019 Los Angeles Times photographer Brian van der Brug gets soaked while shooting Coast Guard crew members training to fight fires aboard the Polar Star, the lone U.S. heavy icebreaker. Los Angeles Times, "Behind the story: Hitching a ride on a dilapidated Coast Guard icebreaker," 2 Aug. 2019 Next month, an international expedition led by the German icebreaker Polarstern will pay homage to Nansen’s strategy in the biggest Arctic science expedition to date. Eli Kintisch, Science | AAAS, "Arctic researchers will lock this ship in ice for a year to study the changing polar region," 20 Aug. 2019 It is equipped with two pressurized water reactors — a version of naval reactors used by Russia's atomic icebreakers, Dmitry Alekseyenko, the deputy head of floating nuclear power plant construction and operation, told NBC News. NBC News, "Russia's 'floating Chernobyl' nuclear plant begins voyage north," 23 Aug. 2019 Coast Guard commanders and their allies in Congress say the U.S. will need more icebreakers as climate change reshapes the polar regions. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: The madness of mass shootings," 5 Aug. 2019 Oceanographer Anna Wåhlin paced across the bridge of the Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker like a nervous parent waiting for a teenager out past curfew. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "A Submarine Goes Under a Failing Glacier to Gauge Rising Seas," 6 Aug. 2019 Operation Damage Control Every year, the icebreaker Polar Star slogs 11,500 miles from Seattle to Antarctica to reach scientific bases. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: The madness of mass shootings," 5 Aug. 2019 The technology, which is installed on four icebreakers so far, sweeps the sea floor, updating charts as the ships go about their business. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, "Climate change is luring cruise ships to sail risky Arctic passages," 1 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'icebreaker.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of icebreaker

1825, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Dictionary Entries near icebreaker





ice calorimeter

ice candle

ice cap

Statistics for icebreaker

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for icebreaker

The first known use of icebreaker was in 1825

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English Language Learners Definition of icebreaker

: a ship designed to clear a passage through ice
: something done or said to help people to relax and begin talking at a meeting, party, etc.


ice·​break·​er | \ ˈīs-ˌbrā-kər How to pronounce icebreaker (audio) \

Kids Definition of icebreaker

1 : a ship equipped to make and keep open a channel through ice
2 : something said or done that helps people relax and begin talking in a social situation The party game was a good icebreaker.

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More from Merriam-Webster on icebreaker

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with icebreaker

Spanish Central: Translation of icebreaker

Nglish: Translation of icebreaker for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about icebreaker

Comments on icebreaker

What made you want to look up icebreaker? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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