English Idioms

Comprehensive resource for understanding and mastering English idioms

Breaking the ice


The idiom "breaking the ice" refers to an action or behavior that initiates a social interaction, eases tension, or helps to establish rapport between two or more people. It is often used when someone starts a conversation, initiates a relationship, or takes the first step in resolving a conflict. The phrase can also be used to describe any situation where something new or different is about to begin.


  • Sarah was nervous when she met her boss for the first time, but she quickly broke the ice with a joke and they hit it off right away.
  • The new kid on the block was always shy, but he knew how to break the ice with his quick wit and charm.
  • After years of tension between the two families, it was finally their children who broke the ice by suggesting a joint vacation.
  • When the group was feeling awkward at the party, one person took charge and started telling stories, breaking the ice and making everyone feel more comfortable.
  • The politician's opening remarks were designed to break the ice with the audience and set the tone for the rest of his speech.

Roots and History

The exact origins of the idiom "breaking the ice" are unclear, but it is thought to have originated in the maritime industry where sailors would use a chisel or mallet to break up the ice that formed on the ship's hull during winter months. This allowed them to safely navigate through the water and continue their journey. Over time, the phrase came to be used figuratively to describe any action that initiates social interaction or eases tension between people.

Synonyms in English

  • Icebreaker
  • Opener
  • Initiation
  • Catalyst
  • Launcher

Synonyms in other languages

  • Enabler (French) - This word literally means "one who enables" and is used to describe someone who facilitates or enables social interaction.
  • Tirodeo (Spanish) - A tirodeo refers to a social gathering where people come together to relax, enjoy each other's company, and break the ice.
  • 冰冷的朋友 (Chinese) - This phrase translates to "cold friend" and is used to describe someone who is aloof or distant, making it difficult to establish rapport with them.
  • 腔空的人 (Japanese) - A tetsuzoku refers to someone who is socially awkward or uncomfortable in social situations, making it difficult for them to break the ice and connect with others.
  • 価格調整者 (Korean) - This phrase translates to "price adjustor" and is used to describe someone who initiates a conversation or takes the first step in resolving a conflict.

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