Definition of iceberg in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈīsˌbərɡ/


A large floating mass of ice detached from a glacier or ice sheet and carried out to sea.
Example sentences
  • The environment in the Antarctic is magnificent with glaciers, icebergs and ice floes on a scale which is awe-inspiring.
  • Sea ice is frozen salt water, and when natural forces break it into pieces, the larger ones are called not icebergs but ice floes.
  • Water lapped at the edge of the ice-sheets, small icebergs floating off and melting in the warmer waters.


the tip of the iceberg

The small, perceptible part of a much larger situation or problem that remains hidden: the statistics represent just the tip of the iceberg
More example sentences
  • These are real women, real situations and sadly, only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Yet they are the tip of an iceberg because most cases of child abuse remain unknown, with children suffering in silence.
  • This is just the tip of the iceberg, with many missing but not reported.


Late 18th century: from Dutch ijsberg, from ijs 'ice' + berg 'hill'.

  • The earliest meaning of iceberg in English was for a glacier which is seen from the sea as a hill. The term came in the late 18th century from Dutch ijsberg, from ijs ‘ice’ and berg ‘hill’. The expression the tip of the iceberg, ‘the small visible part of a larger problem that remains hidden’, is surprisingly recent, being recorded only from the 1950s.

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.