How to write a definition essay: A simple guide

Defining a definition essay: how to write a good one

What is the actual meaning of a definition essay? Stop, what? It is already a tautology. Let`s transform the question to what does this type of paper mean? What is its purpose? That is much better. So, this is a writing piece (and namely an academic essay) that presents a detailed dictionary explanation in the form of an essay.

It is at least half of the page long and in comparison to brief dictionary descriptions, it provides a long detailed interpretation of a certain idea or thing. A definition essay is usually supported with bright examples from real-life (not necessarily yours) and belongs to one of the following groups: special, with one or multiple meanings, disputed, without meaning and abstract.

More about the definition essay examples

As was said earlier, this kind of paper defines a particular term, phenomenon, phrase or idea; in other words, it describes its meaning. It best works for some abstract objects like love, justice, honesty, freedom, or friendship. You should agree that it would be difficult to come up with a one-page paper describing a table. One of many relevant definition essay examples will be an essay about happiness and how different people perceive this word as the explanation is based on someone's point of view.

Have you ever thought about what the American dream is? This phrase could also work as a relevant definition essay example. The most enjoyable thing about writing such papers is that you don't really have to use information from a regular dictionary or other scientific sources. People already know the definition. You can hand over your own opinion or your family or friends’ viewpoints and you will be right. This is called freedom of voice and thinking. So you can express your ideas in the way you want them to be. However, there are still some rules to follow.

Definition essay topics variety

Since you need an expanded and detailed interpretation of the word you have chosen, the best way will be picking a wide definition essay topic to base your paper upon. Picking up a word with a wide context will enable you to offer many possible definitions and thus increase the number of words required for this assignment. The word should also be easily supported by examples from real situations (historic events, someone`s stories, your own experience). To pick the one for your definition essay, try to study such general subjects as history, politics, society, abstract terms like fire, love, war, happiness and respect, literature, religion and other things that can be disputed. The more general the subject is, the better.

Here are some tips on the right definition essay topic choice:

  • Choose a complex word that does not have a precise meaning;
  • Choose a word with a variety of meanings;
  • Choose a well-known word you have personal experience with;
  • Choose a multi-dimensional world that has different association by different people;
  • Use the background history of the word (origin, etymology, historical sense, current usage);
  • Use your own interpretation (how you understand this word yourself)

How to write a definition essay

Just like all basic papers, this one also needs a good plan to navigate around. This is the so-called definition essay outline. To make the paper understandable and maximum informative, you need to create a clear structure that the readers will gradually follow to get your idea. Even though the size of the paper is not that big, there is still some place for a logical organization, paragraphs and flow.

So how to write a definition essay in the properly structured and most informative way?

  1. Introduction. The key aim of the initial part of the essay is to give a basic meaning of the chosen word at the same time making the reader learn more about its other meanings. As always, it also includes a thesis which is here your version of what this word means. It can be your suggestion, personal experience, whatever. It needs to grab the attention;
  2. Body. In general, it consists of three paragraphs which can be origin, dictionary explanation and ways of use and personal example. It will let you analyze the word from different angles and cover all its meanings. The more information you can find for this word, the better you can describe and explain it;
  3. Conclusion. Make it rather simple and in addition to summing up all three paragraphs, rephrase your initial thesis.

The definition essay outline helps to stick to a certain plan and provide a smooth logical flow. Once you are done with definition essay writing, make sure to provide references for dictionaries and sources you considered and quoted, then proofread and edit the final paper if necessary.

How to write a definition essay in Preparation tips

Definition argument essay type

Basically, when defining a term, you need to write an argument that makes it a definition argument essay. As an example, there is the statement «diets are dangerous for people with health problems». You need to define what you mean by diets and why they are dangerous. To transform it into a definition argument essay, you have to cite researches and studies that show the harmful effects of different diets and how they impact people with certain health problems.

Striking tips for guaranteed logical writing

To compose a good definition essay example, you might follow these tricks:

  • Before choosing a definition essay topic, explore as many ideas as you can to make the right choice;
  • Dynamic definitions are more complicated and thus more interesting;
  • Give more examples from your life or other stories;
  • Narrow down the word if it has too wide meaning;
  • Don`t think that your own interpretation will be unique: someone has probably already written the same thing;
  • Be creative and provide a non-standard way of thinking;
  • Avoid well-known or popular terms: choose something more interesting that also has conflicting interpretations;
  • Explain not only the meaning but its functions, nature, structure;
  • Make all the paragraphs united logically using transition words and phrases;
  • Always stick to the initially chosen definition essay outline to ensure the logical order.

Don`t forget to emphasize the term during all your definition essay writing. It does not mean that you have to repeat the same thing throughout the paper but if you mention it only once your readers will forget what the point is. Another mistake would be to ignore the necessity of a few examples to water your story down. No matter how detailed the definition of your essay topic is, without life examples and situations it would be really hard for the reader to imagine it and get your point.

The main thing is not to copy the existing word`s meaning in dictionary word-by-word. Interpret it in your own unique way and create something new. Now you understand how to write a definition essay. The more practice you have, the better the results will be. Before you start writing, look for examples of similar essays on the web or on our website. A real example is the best way to understand how the whole thing works.