break the ice

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

By application of the metaphor that strangers are socially separated by ice.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (US, UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɹeɪk ði ˈaɪs/
  • (file)

Verb[edit]

break the ice (third-person singular simple present breaks the ice, present participle breaking the ice, simple past broke the ice, past participle broken the ice)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see break,‎ the,‎ ice.
  2. (idiomatic) To start to get to know people to avoid social awkwardness and formality.
    Including a few fun details in large group introductions can be a great way to break the ice.
  3. (idiomatic) To introduce conversation.
    • c. 1590–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii], page 214:
      If it be so ſir, that you are the man Muſt ſteed us all, and me amongſt the reſt: And if you breake the ice and do this ſeeke, Atchieve the elder: ſet the yonger free, For our acceſſe, whose hap ſhall be to have her, will not so graceleſſe be, to be ingrate.
  4. To surmount initial difficulties; to overcome obstacles and make a beginning.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]