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icebreaker

[ahys-brey-ker]
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noun
  1. Nautical. a ship specially built for breaking navigable passages through ice.
  2. an opening remark, action, etc., designed to ease tension or relieve formality: A mild joke can be a good icebreaker.
  3. a tool or machine for chopping ice into small pieces.
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Origin of icebreaker

An Americanism dating back to 1810–20; ice + breaker1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for icebreaker

icebreaker

noun
  1. Also called: iceboat a vessel with a reinforced bow for breaking up the ice in bodies of water to keep channels open for navigation
  2. any tool or device for breaking ice into smaller pieces
  3. something intended to relieve mutual shyness at a gathering of strangers
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012