Also called ice floe. a sheet of floating ice, chiefly on the surface of the sea, smaller than an ice field.
a detached floating portion of such a sheet.

1810–20; perhaps < Norwegian flo layer (compare Old Norse flō layer, level); cognate with Old English flōh piece, flagstone; cf. flaw1

floe, flow (see synonym study at flow).
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World English Dictionary
floe (fləʊ)
See ice floe
[C19: probably from Norwegian flo slab, layer, from Old Norse; see flaw1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1817, first used by Arctic explorers, probably from Norw. flo "layer, slab," from O.N. flo, related to first element in flagstone (q.v.). Earlier explorers used flake.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
floe   (flō)  Pronunciation Key 
A mass or sheet of floating ice.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
That's what happens when your lab sits on a melting ice floe.
Two of us sink the floe with our weight and slip it to one side beneath the ice.
Then a following ice floe snaps it half with the sound of a battleship gun.
They travel over frozen seas by dogsled and jump from ice floe to ice floe with
  their harpoons.
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