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How to Write a Definition Essay: Tips, Hints and Goals

A definition essay is written to explain a certain notion to the readers. In fact, it is not difficult to define an object, if you are aware of the tips that are necessary for writing a definition paper. Thus, it is important not only to resort to the use of different sources of information to find out the best explanation of a notion, but present your own understanding and interpretation of an object under consideration. A writer should explain the notion in his/her own words. Only in this case a definition essay will be catching for the readers and attract attention. Moreover, this will make a great contribution to the author’s writing skills. One must not use too difficult terms to define a notion, everything should be understandable for the audience. It is a good idea to add some personality to the paper by means of specific or funny stories. Actually, definition essays may explain unknown notions, which are necessary to a particular field of studies, the words that became misunderstood due to particular circumstances or historical events, and words that mean commonplace. The major purpose of such paper is to present an understandable explanation of the term under analysis.

Quick Navigation through the Definition Essay Page

A Definition Essay Sample (Cick the Image to Enlarge)

Definition essay examples may help a fresh writer to get an idea of this paper before getting down straight to work. The best way to feel prepared for writing your own definition essay is to consider one as an example. Do not forget to pay attention to the structure of the essay, its format, style, and the methods of defining. See if the writer has managed to define a term so that it became understandable to the audience.
Free definition essay sample may become a good basis for writing your own paper. Pay attention to the methods used by other writers to catch the reader.

Download A Free Sample of a Definition Essay

Definition Essays. Approaches and Methods

There are different approaches to definition.

  1. You can give meaning by explaining the use or function; of the subject
  2. One may give meaning by exposing how an object was developed or organized.
  3. A writer may resort to the use of evaluation/analysis: one can subject an object to ratings, appraisals, by means of compare and contrast.
  4. Achievement: this is another tool that can be used in definition.

There are several methods a definition essay can be written, that should make your topic more understandable and catching. They are:

  • Analysis – the notion is divided into several parts that are defined separately
  • Detailed description – a writer describes the features of the term
  • Negation – it helps to point out the qualities that are not relevant to the subject
  • Comparison – the term is compared to some other term
  • Examples – writer uses the examples to illustrate his point
  • Determination of causes & origins

Definition Essay Writing Tips

Definition essay is an act of ascribing a meaning to an object for the purpose of identification, recognition, evaluation, analysis, description, etc. Good essay writing is impossible without the contribution of definition skill; this makes it the most useful in the list of types of essay. Definition essay can be identified in all writings, there is hardly an interesting research paper topic that you will not be required to define, and this makes the ability to define a very important skill to acquire.
We suggest you to follow these steps to learn how to write a definition essay:

  1. Let your readers know what you are going to define. Is it love, book? Don’t jump into the art of definition without letting your readers know what you are talking about.
  2. Make your meaning very clear, concise, and simple.
  3. Make sure that your definition is supported by references. References and citations are important to support your explanation and avoid plagiarism. You may learn about basic rules of making references at MLA, APA, Harvard and Chicago style at ProfEssays.com.
  4. Obtain adequate knowledge about what you wish to define. Conduct research, search in the dictionary, encyclopedias, Internet, etc to get very detailed information.
  5. Determine your approach. Are you going to define by function, structure, analysis, etc? Find out how to use the approach you have chosen. In case, it is analytic, find out about writing analysis essay.
  6. Give brief definition about the topic in the thesis statement. You may decide to make it argumentative, analytic, informative, or descriptive. The choice is yours.

Do not forget to mention the notion’s impact and relevance. For example, if you are to write about “racism,” you may stress that it is a societal menace that has created intolerance among people, causing fractions, rebel and wars in the world. This is an example of definition by argument.

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Definition Essay Topics

Definition essay topics can be different. For example, it is possible to define both concrete and abstract notions, widely used terms and some scientific concepts. One may write about some certain object, like an apple or a table; or it is possible to define such abstract terms as love, wisdom, patience, etc. So, we may say that almost any topic can be enlightened in such paper. It is up to the writer to decide whether his/her topic will be broad or general.

Definition Essay Structure

Definition essay should be written according to particular rules and has a certain structure. The first part is introductory. Here it is important to catch the reader’s attention to the topic. It is possible to use here a definition from a dictionary before giving your own interpretation. It is possible to resort to the use of humor in the writing. This will attract the audience’s attention and make you enjoy the process of writing this paper. A thesis statement is also placed in the introduction. The body contains a few paragraphs. Each of them defines a term from a different perspective, using different criteria for the final definition of the term. Conclusion summarizes this information.

A Definition Essay on Love

If we take a definition essay on love, we shall see that such topic is relevant to every person. Nevertheless, this paper may seem dull to its readers, if a writer omits his/her personal attitude towards this notion, examples, and comparison. It will be great to touch the theme of first love or marriage in such an essay, as it is sure to give rise to audience’s sympathy and interest to the paper.

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