Definition Essay Writing

Updated: Oct 24, 2016

Definition essay is meant to explain a meaning of a term. Writing this type of essay includes giving your own definition of the term, presenting clear information about the concept, illustrating your definition with facts, examples or anecdotes.

What are distinctive characteristics of a definition essay? First of all, you may write it in any possible approach. In addition, there exists nothing particularly personal; you can even write on concrete things. And when using abstract concepts, you should communicate your vies through ways in which you understand them.

Definition Essay Writing

A definition essay is a piece of writing that explains what a term or a concept means. Some terms 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. 

Save your time and let PrivateWriting take care of your essay. We do not have amateur writers in our team, your paper will be written by the most experienced and qualified academic writers. The term may be evaluated from the direct or exact meaning and from the point of the subjectivity of the person defining the term. The aim is not only to provide the dictionary definition but also to expound on why the word is defined in such a manner.

The approach to be used depends on the subject, your readers, and the essay’s purpose.

Three Steps to Effective Definition:

1. Tell readers what term is being defined.
2. Present clear and basic information.
3. Use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

Choosing a Definition

Choosing a definition is a key step in writing a definition essay. You need to understand the term before you can define it for others. Read the dictionary, but don't just copy the definition. Explain the term briefly in your own words. In addition, it is important to limit your term before you start defining it. For example, you could write forever on the term "love". To limit it, you would write about either "romantic love", "platonic love", or "first love".

How to Write an Effective Definition Essay

Definition essay outline format is similar to that of a typical essay and includes several unique characteristics. Typically, it includes introduction, body and conclusion parts. Here is a detailed focus on each section.

1. Introduction

Start with one of the various techniques, such as a short anecdote, an extended definition, or some open-ended questions. Your introduction should conclude with a distinct, precise thesis statement that tells your readers just what your essay will be discussing. All body paragraphs directly and clearly support the thesis statement. The thesis statement usually identifies the term being defined and provides a brief, basic definition.

Ex: Assertiveness is standing up for your rights.

2. Body Paragraphs

  • Create a thorough definition.

There are several ways to define a 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.

Ex: A Siberian husky is a dog reputed for its ability to tolerate cold, its distinctive features, and its keen strength and stamina.

  • Define by what the term does not mean.

This distinction can sometimes clarify a definition and help a reader to better understand it.

Use understandable facts, examples, or anecdotes. Select facts, examples, or anecdotes to 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.

Remember: a definition essay is writing that explains what a term means. When writing a definition essay, remember to tell readers what term is being defined, to present a clear and basic definition, and to use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

3. Conclusion

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

The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Definition Essay Writing:

The do’s of effective definition essay writing are the following: 1) do identify firm transitions to merge the different parts of your essay together 2) try to come up with a definition that would be unique from the rest, try to be creative in providing non-standard explanations 3) do proofread your content carefully to evade factual mistakes. The don’ts are: 1) don’t employ words such as ‘when’ or ‘where’ when defining your term, for instance: “Totalitarianism is when the government efforts to control the society.” Make your definitions look much scientific 2) don’t write an essay on a much narrowed down topic or a common, obvious subject 3) avoid writing excessive details. However, you should not withhold information. Remember to note the word limit of the essay you commence writing.

Examples of Good Definition Essay Topics

We use multiple terms every day. Most of them are almost clear to everybody, but a vast abstraction of scientific terms can be chosen as the subject of discussion. Though most of us know what a TV, dog or phone is, some intangible entities such as faith may be hectic for people to synthesis. Some terminologies that could be defined in an essay include:

  • Dedication
  • Integrity
  • Self-assurance
  • Courage
  • Citizenship
  • Feminism
  • Success
  • Pride
  • Sense of Humor
  • Heroism
  • Love
  • Optimism
  • Racism
  • Respect
  • Ambition

A well-structured essay is not only easier to write but also improves the readability. The perfect definition essay is usually organized and will undoubtedly depict its validity, catching the reader’s interest. PrivateWriting will help you create an amusing, poignant, and unique piece, outstanding to your reader.

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