break the ice


break the ice


  • to do or say something that makes people feel more comfortable, especially at the start of a meeting or party
  • to reduce the tension or unfamiliarity at the beginning of a party, gathering etc.
  • to make people feel more relaxed with each other who have not met before
  • to start doing something to make people feel relaxed and comfortable at a gathering or in a new situation
  • an attempt of initiating a friendly environment in a new and unfamiliar situation

Icebreaker – An icebreaker can be a person, game, exercise, joke, handshake or a simple question to start up a conversation and break awkward silence and shyness. Icebreakers used to welcome attendees and warm up the chat among new members in a meeting.

Example Sentences

  1. Jone suggested playing a party game to break the ice.
  2. Everyone was quiet in the hall until she broke the ice by cracking a joke.
  3. It’s not always easy to break the ice at a formal meeting.
  4. Before leaving the party, I complimented her, “Your cute smile did a lot to break the ice.”
  5. To confidently break the ice in any situation, you need to watch this video.
  6. Can America and Russia break the ice after years of chilly relations?
  7. The talks were supposed to break the ice in their relations.
  8. The dance is what helped him break the ice with co-star Emma Watson.
  9. The handshake is a universal sign of greeting, used to break the ice with strangers.
  10. Icebreakers may feel contrived, but they add an element of play that helps people relax.
  11.  New joiners find it easy to settle in due to these activities, which act as icebreakers.
  12. Use icebreakers to kick things off – ask participants to introduce, or describe themselves in just one word.


The old and original meaning of the phrase “break the ice” is to clear a blocked path and make way for others and also related to boat navigation by breaking the ice.

The metaphoric use is pretty ancient and was documented in 1579 by Sir Thomas North in his translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes:

“To be the first to break the Ice of the Enterprize.”

But the idiom (in its present meaning) first appeared in the 17th century in an English mock-heroic narrative poem titled Hudibras by Samuel Butler published in 1663:

“The Oratour – At last broke silence, and the Ice.”

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In Shakespear’s The Taming of the Shrew (1590), Tranio: “and if you break the ice and do this feat, achieve the elder, set the younger free for our access.”

‒ M Sotil June 4, 2022

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