Excellent Tips on Writing a Definition Essay


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Writing a definition essay implies interpreting the meaning of a particular notion. In order to provide readers with a correct interpretation, you need to describe the given notion accurately and give examples to support your statement. It is very important to explain the term you are dealing with, as not all of them have an exact meaning. For example, abstract notions such as “kindness,” “hate,” etc., can be interpreted in different ways.

Clear Writing Guidance

  1. Pick a notion you are going to analyze. You can present it to readers in different ways. However, the main thing is to explain readers what your definition essay is focused on.
  2. Refer to different authoritative sources such as encyclopedias and dictionaries to see how the chosen concept is described. Afterwards, you need to make your own interpretation of the term by combining its found definitions.
  3. Introduce the notion you are going to examine in the introductory paragraph of your paper.
  4. The body of your essay should provide readers with relevant information about the selected term. Alongside your own definition, it is also worth mentioning the cases when the notion is used and impart some historical facts about it, i.e. show how the term has developed. You may also identify the common errors that may occur when defining the term. By the way, you can find quality definition essay examples online to see how a paper should be constructed.
  5. Give vivid examples to make your interpretation valid.

Variety of Essay Topics

Every day we use a large number of different terms. The majority of them are known to people. Still, there are many abstract terms people are unaware of. Certainly, everyone can explain what a washing machine, car, or cat is. Nevertheless, interpreting such notions as “fear,” “faith,” “hope,” and others may cause some difficulties. Below, there is a list of terms that can be selected as topics for definition essays:
  • Apathy
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Hate
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Irritation
  • Hope
  • Love
  • Appreciation
  • Marriage
  • Heaven
  • Intelligence
  • Wealth
  • Courage
  • Despair
  • Friendship
  • Loyalty
  • Passion
  • Enjoyment
  • Excitement
  • Depression
  • Sympathy
There are plenty of other topics for definition essays among which you can choose the one you would like to explore.

Main Points to Follow

  1. Defining a specific term does not mean giving a definition provided by some sources. When creating definition essays, you need to present a new interpretation of a notion. If you cannot do it on your own, refer to the existed definition and interpret it in a specific way.
  2. Deal with the concepts you are fully aware of. Avoid examining the terms you do not understand, as you may be confused by their meaning and, as a result, unable to provide readers with a proper explanation.
  3. You can decipher the meaning of a term by describing its structure and functions. Additionally, you may compare it with other notions of the same group and highlight the points that differ your term from the rest.
  4. Structure your work properly. Introduce the term in the introduction, develop your concepts in the body, and create a reasonable conclusion. You may use extended definition essay examples to understand how to structure your paper.

Useful Prompts

  • If the term has a broad meaning, narrow it. Imagine that you need to write an essay about depression. This is rather a wide notion and your paper may include hundreds of pages. However, if you narrow it to “chronic depression”, creating your essay will be easier.
  • Make smooth transitions between the paper sections.
  • Provide an extraordinary definition. Do not be shy to be imaginative and present an uncommon explanation of the term.
  • Proofread your paper to avoid inconsistencies.
  • When writing a definition essay, try to make your interpretation of a term sound credible. For instance, compare the following definitions: “Totalitarianism is a means of controlling society” and “Totalitarianism is a political system used by authorities to control different aspects of the life of society.”
  • Avoid producing a paper about a very specific or common notion.
  • Do not provide too many details about the chosen term. At the same time, your paper should not be very concise. Determine the required word count before the writing process starts.
  • Avoid repetitions, as they will make your paper boring. Not a single reader will appreciate reading tedious papers.
Take the following advice to avoid common mistakes:
  • Do not analyze the terms with a very broad meaning, as they are not suitable for writing a definition essay.
  • Remember to set the purpose of your paper. Otherwise, readers will find it difficult to define the main idea.
  • Do not choose the notions that cannot be debated.
  • Mind to cite examples. Even if your definition does not lack clarity, it can be hard for readers to comprehend when to use the analyzed concept.
  • Do not copy the definition given in a particular source. Instead, provide your own interpretation of the term you are dealing with.
Now, when you have helpful definition essay writing tips at hand, you will not encounter any problems with creating a superior paper. You can also check some good examples of a definition essay to see whether you are discussing the subject in the right way.  
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