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

Examples of icebreaker in a Sentence

using an old joke as a conversational icebreaker
Recent Examples on the Web Putin’s regime styles itself an icebreaker, smashing to bits the U.S.-led international order on behalf of humanity. Stephen Kotkin, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2024 The helicopter sped back to the South Korean icebreaker RV Araon, 20 kilometers away, to fetch more gear. Bychristian Elliott,, 18 Apr. 2024 When in doubt, try David Sedaris’s bizarre conversational icebreakers. George Gurley, New York Times, 21 June 2024 Finland is also the world’s leading manufacturer of icebreakers and able to contribute a fleet of nine to support NATO’s evolving Arctic strategy, which is aimed, in part, at keeping maritime trading routes open and guarding against potential Russian military activity. Jussi M. Hanhimäki, Foreign Affairs, 22 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for icebreaker 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'icebreaker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 17 Jul. 2024.

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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