What Is a Definition Essay and How to Make It Perfect?
What is a Definition Essay?
A definition essay is an academic writing assignment in which students are required to explain what a particular term, a concept, or a phenomenon means. Also, students have to present a common meaning, historical origin, and cultural perception, as well as show their understanding of that word. So, what is a definition essay?
In a formal sense, a definition essay is a type of expository paper in which students have to provide information about a particular word to the essay readers. This kind of academic paper is understandable from its very name. Students have to give a reasonable and consistent definition of a term or a notion.
At the same time, a definition essay has its advantages. Students are not obliged to provide any arguments to protect their points of view. The only purpose of this essay is to provide the readers with the appropriate, meaningful, and objective explanation of the concept, term, or notion.
Types of Definition Essays
We can distinguish two main types of definition essays depending on defining concrete concepts or abstract notions. Concrete and simple concepts often refer to a specific place, object, or adjective. Examples of places might be a country, a city, a park, a house, a room, etc. To give a good and detailed definition of one of these places, you have to be familiar with it. If you need to research any adjective, for example, “good” / “bad”, “poor” / “rich”, “good” / “evil”, etc., then your focus should be on the qualities and characteristics of these words.
By default, abstract concepts are broader and more complex notions. Examples of abstract concepts might include freedom, love, pride, jealousy, and so on. Students should demonstrate a more extensive understanding of these terms. To create a good definition essay on an abstract concept, it is recommended to break it down into parts that are simpler and easier for readers to understand.
Definition Essay Outline
A definition essay should be structured around the purpose of defining a word, term, or idea. However, an extended explanation should be provided in writing. Each definition essay can be different depending on the topic and the chosen term, but typically students follow the same basic outline. Although the subject may be different, the structure of a definition essay always remains the same. So, all definition essays should have an introduction, main paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The creation of a definition essay starts with an outline design. This point is crucial even though not all students know how to write this essay type. A thought-out framework creates a focused and straightforward paper. Having a strict template, you can show your creativity anyway. This outline can significantly simplify your writing task. It will guide you through the different parts of your essay and will not allow you to depart from the main purpose. So, how to write a definition essay?
The introduction should present a word that needs a proper definition. Usually, students start with an explanation given in dictionaries to provide a starting point. When defining this term or concept, a more detailed definition should be given, based on the research of other specialists and the understanding of the author himself. Definition essay writing does not allow any plagiarism. So, you should provide proper references for your identifications. Your thesis statement has to be original and straightforward.
Different aspects of the term definition are typically provided in each paragraph of the main part. You can start with a detailed description of the topic origin and its history and then move on to a complete dictionary definition and different variants of the term use. You can compare and contrast the subject matter with other concepts, and this will give more dimensions to the focus term. Finally, you should create your own definition based on what you have learned.
In the concluding paragraph, you should summarize all of your main points without introducing anything new. A sound output recapitulates the main ideas stated in the body paragraphs. Rephrase the thesis statement and come up with a broader statement for the concept. Usually, the conclusion is the shortest paragraph. The better the body paragraphs are written, the easier writing the conclusion paragraph will be. However, do not repeat yourself word for word. Summarize the main points instead of copying and pasting.
How to Choose a Topic for a Definition Essay?
First of all, you need to select a term that you want to define. It might be suggested to you, or you will need to choose one yourself. Determining the topic for an essay of this kind usually uses abstract ideas or theories. You can select such definition essay topics as “passion” or “laziness.” They are broad enough in scope that you can interpret them as you see fit. Plus, you can find various pieces of evidence to support your point of view.
Make up your mind about the term or notion to define. The first hidden pitfall is a word selection. You will not obtain a good grade if you choose a simple term or concept. Picking up words with a universal meaning can turn into useless work to do. Using simple words will not lead you to any satisfactory result. You risk writing an essay that will not be interesting and engaging to readers.
It means that your paper will not be highly appreciated if you select a word like “table,” “bread,” “window,” etc. for it. Probably, you will be able to write a couple of hundreds of words about these terms. For a definition essay, it is better to choose such words as “friendship,” “liberty,” or “power,” which can have multiple meanings. Also, you have to understand the exact meaning of the term that you pick up.
However, do not select a word to define, which you do not understand completely. The main point is to offer your own definition of the term, which corresponds to your personal and cultural background. Most often, students choose a concept that can be explained through the history of humanity and affect moral norms adopted in society. A non-concrete concept would be the best option for your definition essay to reveal your creative way of thinking.
Students usually start writing this paper with a simple definition taken from dictionaries. First, consult the competent and authoritative dictionaries to check the definition of a chosen word. Read what is written about a term in several dictionaries, but do not just copy your text. Definitions given in dictionaries are often dry and narrow, so your goal is to present all the term’s complexity in your own words.
An adequate definition typically includes several aspects. First, tell your readers what word will be defined and give clear information on it. Then, use convincing examples and facts. Also, some limitations can be useful before you start defining a term. For instance, if you write about the word “love,” it would be better to narrow the notion and add an adjective “first” or “romantic.” The complexity of the concept to define will influence the essay’s length and the number of given statements.
Definition Essay Examples
In fact, a definition essay does not require a lot of analysis. You do not need to either scrutinize many books and articles or quote many sources. However, you have to undertake some investigation and form your own judgment of the concept. For that, use several dictionaries and find as many definitions as you can.
Dictionaries are useful not only for language learning but for a better understanding of particular words and concepts as well.Search for online resources that describe and depict the notion or concept you have chosen. You can find tons of information online. However, do not forget to check the reliability of the data before you decide to use it in your definition essay.
On the Internet, you are able to find many samples of perfect definition essays, as well as useful tips and recommendations from experts. Read any definition essay example to get a clear idea about what you will write in your paper. Here are some examples you can refer to:
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How to Format a Definition Essay?
A definition essay is an academic project, so it needs to be organized using the right style. This type of paper is written using a rhetorical style and different techniques to impress the readers on the original meaning of a word, term, or concept. Besides, a definition essay should provide many details about a word or concept. Based on several sources, students have to create their own definitions.
Many teachers consider a definition essay as a personal writing assignment. Therefore, this essay type should demonstrate what the term or concept means personally to every student. A definition can be used for the whole essay style, but it is often referred to as a rhetorical style. For instance, you may use a definition to explain a term before you provide an argument about this term.
Several options to explain a concept or a term can include a definition by its function, structure, and analysis. Compare the concept with other similar notions and illustrate the differences with concrete examples. These differences are special features that make the concept stand out. Use understandable evidence, facts, and examples to explain your definition entirely.
Also, you can define a word by what it does not mean. For example, the term “bravery” is often associated with a lack of fear. However, the meaning of this word is rather acting despite fear. This distinction can make your definition more clear and help readers to understand it better.
Definition Essay Writing Tips
When writing a definition essay, do not use wordy sentences. Incorporate different language means to better explain an abstract term or concept. Create an outline and follow it while writing your essay. You can start the research process by determining the origin of the concept and its later evolution. Explain why you have selected this word to define. Pay attention to the person who has created this particular term and how it was used in history.
For writing a definition essay, gather reliable information, and breathe life into your paper.
You can practice writing a definition essay. Possible topics for practice can include terms such as career, government, marriage, religion, education, and so on. Try to review what you have written and see how you cope with this task. When it comes to writing a definition essay on a given topic, you will be ready. Remember to do your research and give yourself enough time to complete this assignment. The more time you have, the better the essay will be written.
To make your paper worth being read and deserve a good grade, try to add your personal experience, objective thoughts, and exciting ideas. After finishing your definition essay, make corrections and final editorial revisions. Check whether you have entered quotations and references correctly. Make sure there are no mistakes in your text that could badly affect your grade. Now that you know how to write a definition essay, there is no need to worry.
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Janelle Harris is a Colorado-based writer with over eleven years of academic writing experience. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with an MBA degree. Janelle is a passionate expert who believes that assignment instructions must always be impeccably followed.