Peculiarities of Writing a Definition Essay

Writing a definition essay presumes discussing a notion, term, object, person, building, etc from all possible angles. It is an academic piece of writing assigned in many subjects. Some words in our vocabulary have a direct meaning: a house, table, ground, cat, etc. However, there are many abstract words, meaning of which depends on personal opinions and considerations based on the understanding of the modern world: dignity, professionalism, hatred, love, etc.

writing a definition essay

Simple Steps for Writing a Definition Essay

In all definition essay topics, you should present up-to-date definitions of the chosen notion. Yes, you can start from a discussion of what your notion meant previously and explain the shift of meaning. Then you should provide some background ideas about the chosen term. The reader should know as much as needed to comprehend the scope of meaning. Do not forget that you should present a number of examples to prove your claims. Use multiple dictionaries to present several definitions and examples of your notion.

The Role of a Thesis Statement

In definition writing as in any other essay writing, a student should always pay proper attention to an introductory paragraph. You should provide a basic definition of your term (the main definition in a very brief form). End your introduction with a clear thesis statement that constitutes your backbone of writing. Your thesis statement can be written in this way:

Term…its definition.

For example, “Hatred is a strong dislike towards a person, belief, tendency, etc.”

Find the Most Cognitive Definition

All definition essays should discuss a couple of definitions. For sure, each dictionary can present some adjustments in defining the word. Your task now is to choose the most valid and accurate definition that appeals to you. If you want to succeed in writing a definition essay, you should spend enough time on researching. Your readers strive to find a good definition of the chosen notion.

It goes without saying that you can work with both printed and electronic dictionaries, especially if you have to write an extended definition essay and refer to multiple sources. However, please mind that teachers hate reading copy-pasted definitions only. Your essay should not be composed of direct quotes only. Your task is to explain what you have found in your own words.

If the choice of topic is up to you, try to narrow down the focus. For instance, you can write numerous pages about hatred, but you can focus on blind hatred, religious hatred, racial hatred and so on. Defining a specific term will definitely bring positive results because your essay will have a clear focus.

Common Rules for Definition Writing

Before writing a definition essay, you can consult with online writing labs and find some sample papers on the web to ensure that you work in the right direction. Moreover, read your assignment at least twice to know for sure how many parts your essay should include, what sources can be included in the reference list, how to organize your ideas, which formatting style to follow, etc.

You can define your term differently:

  • By analysis – think about similar notions or terms. Compare and contrast your definition with other terms. For example, you can compare Golden Retriever with Labrador Retriever.
  • By structure – you should discuss mainly the elements forming your term.
  • By function – analyze how everything works.

In addition, you can state what your term does not presume. In some cases, people interpret words differently and wrongly. To help a reader understand what your notion implies, clearly state what it does not imply. For example, there is a difference between a “solicitor” and “attorney.”

As in any other academic piece of writing, in your definition essay, you should pay attention to the purpose of writing and your audience. If the primary reader will be your professor, you should exclude very simple and obvious ideas. In addition, definition essays are informative in their nature and you should not try to prove anything. Your paper should be based on your research and not your personal claims and attitudes.