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break the ice

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To remove the tension at a first meeting, at the opening of a party, etc.: “That joke really broke the ice at the conference; we all relaxed afterward.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

How to use break the ice in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with break the ice

break the ice

1

Make a start, pave the way, as in Newton's theories broke the ice for modern physics. This idiom alludes to breaking ice in a channel so that a ship can pass. [Early 1600s] Also see break ground.

2

Relax a tense or very formal situation, as in Someone at the conference table will have to break the ice. [Early 1600s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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