Definition Essay: A Powerful Guide to Writing an Excellent Paper

A definition essay is a type of academic writing that explains what a term or a concept means.

What Is a Definition Essay?

What a definition essay is a piece of writing (see all essay types) that explains what a term or a concept means. Some words have definite, concrete meanings, such as glass, book, or tree. Terms such as honesty, honor, or love are abstract and depend more on a person’s point of view.

A definition essay can be evaluated from the direct, or exact meaning and the point of the subjectivity of the person defining the term. The aim is not only to provide a dictionary definition but also elaborate on why the word is defined in such a manner. The approach depends on the subject, readers, and the essay’s purpose.

3 Steps to a Powerful Definition Essay

When you start writing a definition essay, follow 3 main steps.

Step 1: Tell readers what term is being defined.

Step 2: Present clear and basic information.

Step 3: Use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

Choosing Ideas for Writing a Definition Essay

Choosing the definition is a key step in writing a definition essay. You need to understand the term used for your definition paper and make sure it’s easy-to-understand by others. Read the dictionary, but don’t just copy the definition. Explain the term’s meaning briefly in your own words. Besides, it is important to limit your term before you start defining it. For example, you could write forever on such definition essay topics as “love”, “money”, “power”, or friendship. To limit it, you would write about either “romantic love,” “platonic love,” or “first love.” If you are assigned to write a definition essay here is a great list of definition essay topics:


15 INTERESTING DEFINITION ESSAY TOPICS


If the definition essay topics from the list above don’t match your assignment and you need another topic for definition writing, feel free to contact our writing service. You can also read an article on How to Pick Proper Essay Topics.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Outline and Format

The definition essay outline format is similar to that of a typical essay and includes several unique characteristics. Typically, it includes the introduction, body, and conclusion parts. A definition essay is a good option when you want to learn about the classic college essay structure. Here is a detailed focus on each section.

Definition Essay: Introduction

Start with one of the various techniques, such as a short anecdote, a peculiar fact, a quote, or an open-ended question. Your introduction should conclude with a clear, precise thesis statement that tells your readers just what the essay will discuss. All body paragraphs directly support the thesis statement. The thesis statement usually identifies the term being defined and provides a brief, basic definition.

If you are looking for essay examples here is a great one below: 

The Impact of Social Media in Our Daily Lives
Smoking in Public Places Should Be Banned


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Definition Essay: Body Paragraphs

Create a thorough definition. There are several ways on how to write a definition essay about a certain term. Here are a few options.

Define by function Explain what something does or how something works.
Define by a structure Tell how something is organized or put together.
Define by analysis Compare the term to other members of its class and then illustrate the differences. These differences are special characteristics that make the term stand out. For example, compare a Siberian husky to other dogs, such as lap dogs, mutts, or sporting dogs.
Define by what the term does not mean This distinction can sometimes clarify the definition. It helps readers to understand the term better.

Use understandable facts, examples, or anecdotes. Select the ones that can fully explain your definition. Ask yourself, “Which examples will best help readers understand the term? What examples would most appeal to my readers? Will a brief story reveal the term’s meaning?” Do not use any examples that will not support the definition.

Definition Essay: Conclusion

Restate the thesis statement in other words. Give an overview of the main points of the paper, referring to the entire body paragraphs. Link back to the attention grabber to conclude your essay.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Powerful Definition Essay Writing:

Dos and Donts of a Definition Essay Writing

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Definition Types Frequently Used in Essays

Just as you pick a term or concept to define, a question might arise – which type of definition, exactly, could help you define a chosen term in the best possible way?

We’d like to recommend you 7 types of definitions you can use to write your essay:

  • Analytical: Analyze the term by breaking it down into the smallest elements and define each of the elements in particular. 
  • Classification: Define a term from the point of view of classes to which a term or its elements belong.
  • Comparison: Compare and contrast several terms or concepts, or their constituent parts against each other.
  • Details: Each term can be defined based on its peculiar details or characteristic features. 
  • Negation: It’s a witty move to define a term by explaining what it isn’t. 
  • Origins & Causes: Define a term or concept by describing its origins, historical background, and causes.
  • Results, Effects, & Uses: Define a term by telling about its causes, results, effects, and possible uses. 

Now let’s move on from theory to practice. 

We’d like to share a couple of useful definition essay examples and examples for your inspirational and practical writing needs as well as provide some nifty hints and tips.   

Definition Essay on Love

Everyone wants to love and be loved. Love is the most powerful feeling we have. If you can’t decide which topic to choose, always go for Love. Should you offer readers an interesting perspective on love (e.g., Causes & Effects of Love from the Point of View of Neurochemistry), you’ll definitely hit the right chords with your definition essay.    

Check out 5 interesting love definition essay topics to write about in 2021:

  • Love vs Hate: What Do These Feelings Have in Common?
  • Mother’s Love
  • How Love Affects the Way We Think and Behave?
  • What Is True Love? 
  • Stages of Love as a Chemical Process Inside Our Brain

Have a look at a love definition essay example for you to use for your inspirational and reference needs.  

[Definition Sample]

Happiness Definition Essay

What is happiness? For someone, happiness is to love and be loved. For others, happiness is being rich and being able to afford things other people can’t. And for some of us, happiness is freedom: freedom to love, freedom to self-express, and freedom to be who we are. 

Everyone sees happiness differently, and that’s why this topic is so interesting to define. 

Here are some of the examples of happiness definition essay, which will definitely inspire you:

  • Happiness Is a Chemical Process
  • What Causes Happiness?  
  • How to Be Happy?
  • The Secrets of the Happiest Man on Earth
  • Marital Happiness  

In case you’re interested, we’ve prepared a couple of happiness definition essay samples you can read and get new ideas for your own essay.

[Definition Sample -1 Definition Sample-2]

Family Definition Essay

Our family is the closest people we have in this world. People we love and people we’re happy with. Some of us didn’t have a family and some of us have pretty large and close families. Family is a broad concept and can offer you a plethora of topic options to choose from.

Some of the most inspiring family definition essay topics are the following:

  • 2021 Core Family Values
  • Why Do Families Break Up?
  • How to Be a Parent in Your 16s?
  • The Perfect American Family
  • American vs European Family Values
  • My Family Values 
  • How to Grow up Having no Family?
  • Being a Single Parent
  • College & Parenting 

If you need a good example of a family definition essay, we’ve just got what you need!

[Definition Sample]

Freedom Definition Essay

We as Americans do love our freedom! We celebrate it, we cherish it, and we fight for it against everyone who wants to take freedom from us. But what freedom is for some of us, for others is anarchy and vice versa, especially in 2021. 

The First Amendment grants us the freedom of belief, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition the government if our freedoms are violated.

Check out the most inspiring freedom definition essay topics to take into consideration in 2021:

  • The Bill of Rights and The First Amendment
  • Freedom vs Anarchy
  • What’s a Lawless State?
  • Rioting and Looting as Perversion of Freedom 
  • What Socialism Is and What Democracy Isn’t 
  • Freedoms They Took Away From us During COVID-19 Pandemic 
  • Restriction of Liberty

Our essay writers prepared some freedom essay samples you can download for free.  

[Definition Sample]

Easy Definition Essay Topics

On one of those slow days, you need nothing more than an easy definition essay topic. 

These definition essay topics are as easy as they can get:

  • Importance of College Education
  • Trump vs Biden 
  • My First Love
  • Communism vs Capitalism  
  • Who Is a Hero of the Day?
  • Most Well-Paid Jobs in 2021
  • My Definition of Success? 
  • Definition of a Good Essay 
  • My Perfect Date 
  • First Day at Work 

These topics are so easy you don’t want to even have a sample. Just sit down and do some good buy college essays online in the evening. 

Extended Definition Essay Topics

An extended definition essay deals with broad terms only. If a term or concept has only one meaning or connotation, it couldn’t be used for the purposes of an extended definition. 

Sounds a bit confusing? Then let’s see a couple of extended definition topics so you could easily make sense of it faster. 

  • The Government Is Watching Us
  • Marvel Antagonists Aren’t All Bad “People”
  • Trump Isn’t Too Awful a President 
  • The Many Faces of Generosity
  • Why the Rainforests Destruction Should Be Prohibited?
  • What Feminism Really Isn’t 
  • CIA Actually Operates on the US Soil 
  • How to Be Rich?  

BTW, an example of an extended definition essay is available right here!

[Definition Sample]

Definition Essay Ideas for Business

Is an MBA your major? Then there’s a 100% chance that you’ll have to write a definition essay on business or two! Focus on such subjects as e-commerce, startups, investments, Forex, cryptocurrency, macro and microeconomics, etc. 

It might be a good idea to write your definition essay about:

  • Karl Marx, The Capital 
  • How to Explain the Meaning of Blockchain to a 60-year-old?
  • YouTube Economy
  • How Do Banks Work?
  • South African Economy 
  • Deming’s 14 Points of Total Quality Management
  • Essentials of Capitalism 
  • Who Are the 1%?
  • How to Start Your First Blog?
  • The Concept of Tax Evasion 

A great business definition essay example is available right here!

Definition Essay Ideas for Science & IT

Programming used to be a closed club for nerds and tech-gurus who did everything from fixing broken Xeros to creating a web-site or developing accounting software. 

Today we have web-coders, software developers, programmers, Scrum masters, project managers, hackathons, startup culture, incubators, and plenty of other IT-related terms you can define in an essay. 

Here are some of the topics about Science and IT that might inspire you:

  • Lean Startup
  • MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
  • Where to Start Learning Programming?
  • Programmers vs Developers 
  • Major Types of Web Coding Languages 
  • 5 Most Well-Paid IT Jobs in 2021
  • How Hindu Programming Code Is Different?
  • Modern Coding Patterns
  • Python vs Java 
  • What Is GPU?
  • What Is a Processing Core?
  • Big Data Analysis 

An example definition essay on Science & IT is available for you to read and use for writing your own composition.  

[Definition Sample]

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