break the ice

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break the ice

To do something as a means of reducing or eliminating shyness, awkward tension, or unfamiliarity. I was so nervous about meeting Samantha's parents for the first time, but her dad immediately broke the ice by asking about my car, and everything went great after that. Everyone was deathly silent after John went ballistic and left the meeting. I tried breaking the ice with a joke, but it didn't help.
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break the ice

 
1. Fig. to attempt to become friends with someone. He tried to break the ice, but she was a little cold. A nice smile does a lot to break the ice.
2. Fig. to initiate social interchanges and conversation; to get something started. It's hard to break the ice at formal events. Sally broke the ice at the auction by bidding $20,000 for the painting.
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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]
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break the ice

COMMON If a person, event or activity breaks the ice, they make people feel more relaxed and comfortable in a social situation. This exercise is usually good fun and can help break the ice for a new, and perhaps rather anxious, group. I started off by remarking that it seemed natural to be back in Madison Square Garden again. That broke the ice and from then on all went well. Note: An ice-breaker is something that you say or do to break the ice. This presentation was a good ice-breaker. A few laughs go a long way toward making a potential client comfortable. Note: An ice-breaking comment or action is one that breaks the ice. Graham's breakfast-time phone call to David was an ice-breaking exercise. Note: This refers to the need to break the ice around a ship before it is able to sail.
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break the ice

do or say something to relieve tension or get conversation started at the start of a party or when people meet for the first time.
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ˌbreak the ˈice

make a social situation more informal and relaxed, especially at the beginning of a meeting, party, etc: If you serve drinks as soon as they arrive it will help to break the ice. ▶ an ˈice-breaker noun: James told a very funny joke, which was a good ice-breaker.
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break the ice

1. tv. to be the first one to do something. No one wants to break the ice. I guess I will be first.
2. tv. to attempt to become friends with someone. A nice smile does a lot to break the ice.
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break the ice

1. To make a start.
2. To relax a tense or unduly formal atmosphere or social situation.
See also: break, ice