ice·break·er | \ ˈīs-ˌbrā-kər \

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

According to the World Nuclear Association, about 140 ships — mostly submarines, but also icebreakers and aircraft carriers – prowl the world's oceans. Author: Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Anchorage Daily News, "Russia says its sea-based nuclear power plant is safe. Critics call it a ‘Floating Chernobyl’ for the Arctic.," 2 May 2018 According to the World Nuclear Association, about 140 ships — mostly submarines, but also icebreakers and aircraft carriers — prowl the world's oceans. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "Russia says its sea-based nuclear power plant is safe. Critics call it a ‘Floating Chernobyl.’," 1 May 2018 Dirty Couple Game Awkward name syntax aside, this is a perfect early-relationship game—like an icebreaker for new couples. Rebecca Reid, Marie Claire, "I Tried 11 Sex Apps to Spice Up My Marriage," 11 July 2018 The United States, Russia and China are racing to put icebreakers into Arctic waters as rising temperatures uncover new shipping routes, resource deposits and fishing areas once covered by sea ice. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "Ships Threaten Arctic Marine Mammals," 3 July 2018 Discussing your date's zodiac sign is an excellent icebreaker, but what is each sign actually like while online dating? Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Online Dating Style," 6 July 2018 The Russians have 40 icebreakers, some of them nuclear-powered. The Editors, Scientific American, "Without a Treaty to Share the Arctic, Greedy Countries Will Destroy It," 1 Dec. 2017 Even without Valenzuela present, their routine would echo that of Los Altos High’s Camp Diversity: long days and nights of intense sessions leading to tears and confessions, interposed with icebreaker games and rousing camp cheers. Karen De Sa,, "Teens pushed to the brink at ‘leadership’ camps," 18 June 2018 Russia has 46 icebreakers in government and commercial service, with another 15 in the pipeline, according to the Congressional Research Service. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "U.S. Still Lags Behind in Preparing for a Changing Arctic," 8 June 2018

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

10 Sep 2018

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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 \

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


alleviating pain or harshness

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