ice·​break·​er ˈīs-ˌbrā-kər How to pronounce icebreaker (audio)
: a ship equipped (as with a reinforced bow) to make and maintain a channel through ice
: 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

Example Sentences

using an old joke as a conversational icebreaker
Recent Examples on the Web Trinity Small: After the two teams combined for no points through the first three minutes, Purcell's Small provided the icebreaker with a corner 3-pointer. Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, 9 Mar. 2023 Talk about an icebreaker for dinner party conversation. Robert Higgs, cleveland, 19 Oct. 2022 In 2019, a crew comprising many of the same individuals set out in an icebreaker equipped with an AUV to scan the seafloor, but lost the device in drifting ice. Abigail Barronian, Outside Online, 7 Dec. 2022 Halo Kaya Perez-Gallardo, 34, the chef and owner of Lil’ Deb’s Oasis in Hudson, New York, believes this game is a real icebreaker. Merrell Hambleton, New York Times, 5 Dec. 2022 These lighthearted Scandinavian-style gnomes are an instant icebreaker. Samantha Jones, Better Homes & Gardens, 14 Nov. 2022 While both her palate and pie-making skills have matured over the years, Wallen found that bringing and serving pie in her many teaching gigs served multiple functions, including being a nice icebreaker to get to know new students. Seth Combscontributor, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Oct. 2022 For PJ Katz, Brookwood’s offensive coordinator who looks at Lonergan like a son, the icebreaker was enough to believe Saban. Nick Alvarez |, al, 11 Aug. 2022 The bright red hull of the US Coast Guard icebreaker Glacier slammed onto the ice. Marissa Grunes, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of icebreaker was in 1825

Dictionary Entries Near icebreaker

Cite this Entry

“Icebreaker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ice·​break·​er -ˌbrā-kər How to pronounce icebreaker (audio)
: a ship equipped to make and keep open a channel through ice
: something (as a joke or game) that makes one feel more at ease and less reserved (as at a party or meeting)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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