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How To Write A Definition Essay

How to Write a Definition Essay

A definition essay entails defining a particular term or phrase by explaining and describing it in detail. Your definition essay should be supported with explanations and appropriate examples.

Such essays are given to help teachers understand your interpretative and comprehensive skills. Usually, topics for definition essays are those terms and words that have an abstract, special, or a disputable aspect. For example, the word "success" is defined differently by different people. So, this could a suitable topic for a definition essay.

This article aims at giving you some ideas and tips on how to write a definition essay. The following steps will help you do the needful.

Choose an appropriate topic

There are plenty of topics that you can use to write your definition essay. While most everyday items like television, computer, dog etc are known to all, there some abstract terms you could think of such as the following:

  • Happiness

  • Faith

  • Belief

  • God

  • Beauty

  • Enlightenment

  • Intelligence

  • Confidence

  • Morality

Introduce the word in the introductory paragraph

This is easily understood, isn't it? Make sure you let your readers know what word the essay is going to define.

Main body of the essay

Include examples along with other information in the paragraphs of the main body of the definition essay. Make sure each paragraph deals with one idea only. This will enhance the clarity of your essay.

You can use definitions from different sources, some personal experiences which you like to categorize under this term, the etymology of the word, the evolution of the meaning of the word, and you could also look at highlighting any commonly misinterpreted ideas about the word.

The examples you choose to define the word should be clearly illustrative of the meaning of the word.

Create your own meaning and/or interpretation of the word under consideration

What I mean by this is to explore the meaning of the particular word using a variety of sources including dictionaries, thesaurus, and encyclopedias. Once you understand the different ways the word is presented and used, combine them to form something that is unique and reflects your interpretation.

Important elements to include in your essay

  • It is important to present your understanding of the term in question and not just regurgitating what is mentioned in dictionaries and encyclopedias. If you cannot come up with something original, use the definition from the dictionary and then explain what your interpretation is.

  • Choosing terms that you know and understand and can relate to by exploring your personal experiences is a prudent method. Avoid terms that are complex and of which you know little or nothing. You will simply run the risk of presenting a factually wrong definition essay

  • You can use the structure, nature, and/or function of the term to define it. You could also define by explaining what the term does not mean. You could compare the term with words from the same class by specifying and focusing on the differences in meanings.

  • Follow this structure in your definition essay:

    • Present the word of term in the introductory paragraph

    • Explain in detail about the term in various paragraphs of the main body

    • Round off the essay by reinforcing your interpretation of the definition of the word in the concluding paragraph

Some dos and don'ts to remember while writing your definition essay

  • Do narrow down your topic as much as you can. For example, if you have to define "success" you would have to use 4-5 pages for your essays. However, if you narrow down your topic to "personal success," you would be able to make your essay more compelling, interesting, and easy to write.

  • Don't give too detailed a definition; however, don't make your definitions too brief

  • Do employ the use of solid transition statements to connect the different points of the essay.

  • Don't use commonly used or too narrow a topic to write about. You might not get enough ideas or your essay could turn out quite frivolous.

  • Do attempt at making the definition as unique as possible. Find the strength to overcome fears of breaking convention to write something bold. Thinking differently always earns the respect of your readers. Of course, it is important not to hurt anyone sensibilities in the process.

  • Don't define a term using words from the term itself. For example, if you say, "winged birds" are "those birds that have wings," your teacher will definitely not give you a great grade.

  • Do proofread the essay when you have completed it and check for grammar, spelling, flow of information, etc

Avoid these common mistakes

  • Avoid using a term with a broad scope of definition

  • Don't forget to emphasize the term that is being defined in the essay. Otherwise, your readers will never understand what your definition essay is saying

  • Avoid terms that do not have conflicting interpretations

  • Don't forget to include examples to clearly explain the meaning of your definition

  • Avoid using the exact definition as given in your resources. Instead, write your own interpretation of it.

Final Notes

I hope you find the tips, suggestions, and ideas useful in writing a definition essay. However, even with these ideas or due to some other reasons including to save some time, you cannot write your definition essay, please contact Prescott Papers. We will be happy to help you write and complete your essay.

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