break the ice, to

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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.
See also: break, ice
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: break, ice
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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]
See also: break, ice
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: break, ice
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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.
See also: break, ice
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.
See also: break, ice
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.
See also: break, ice
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

break the ice

1. To make a start.
2. To relax a tense or unduly formal atmosphere or social situation.
See also: break, ice
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

break the ice, to

To prepare the way; to overcome initial stiffness or reserve in a social setting. The expression comes from clearing the ice from the sea so that ships could pass, and indeed the special vessels still used for this purpose are called “icebreakers.” By the sixteenth century, however, the term was used figuratively, as it is today, and was listed in Erasmus’s collection of adages (1508). Shakespeare and many others have used it, and there are similar phrases in numerous languages.
See also: break
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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In an interview with the Voice of Lebanon - 93.3 radio station, Ogassapian pointed out "that the key to solutions in Lebanon is the election of a President as it would bring life back to the institutions." "There will be no tangible results from the dialogue table as long as everyone insists on his position," he said, however stressing the need to break the ice between political forces.
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Abadi said in a press conference today: "The challenges still exist under the previous stage that characterized by a lack of trust between the political forces, stressing his quest to break the ice between the Kurdistan region according to the Constitution."
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Summary: March 14 Secretariat General Coordinator Fares Soueid held his second meeting with the Kataeb Party officials in Metn's Bikfaya Wednesday in an attempt to break the ice with the party.
"It took something like that to break the ice and they've also been in touch since by text," the friend added.
And 36 per cent of adults use it to break the ice with a stranger.
And last winter saw the exact same thing but in the bigger lake to the point where myself and a few of the local anglers took it upon ourselves to do the council's job for them and get into the water to break the ice to try to save the fish stock.
The first ones to break the ice were MPs Rafiz Aliti and Femi Jonuzi, who participated in the work of the Committee on Political System.
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If R and D Ryan think the pool at Byker is cold, they should try the City Baths pool, you have to break the ice to get in
A lighthearted guide extolling the physical and emotional health benefits of good cheer, A Mirthful Spirit offers such useful tips as "Use Ice Breakers and Attention Getters--Humor serves as a great way to break the ice and grab attention at meetings and during conversations.