How to Write a Definition Essay

How to Write a Definition Essay

When a student writes a definition essay, he/she makes an attempt to explain a particular word, notion, or issue. However, an important thing to take into account is that the definition should not just be merely rewritten from the dictionary but explained in a logical and concise way. Writing such essay, a writer should demonstrate his/ her in-depth understanding and the ability to convey the message in a clear way. As such, a definition essay can be written on the basis of addressing different meanings or shades of meaning of the word depending on specific contexts. Actually, it is up to the writer to select the meaning he/ she would like to define.

How to Make a Definition Paper Successful:

  • Try to explain the word/term/notion in the simplest way possible. Make sure you define a term but not confuse the reader even more.
  • Make it clear from the very beginning which word you have chosen to explain. Actually, try to introduce it in the opening sentence of the introductory paragraph.
  • In case it is impossible to explain the word only in one sentence (and that’s it), try to provide as many explanations and supporting examples as needed unless it becomes clear to the reader.
  • When you choose some specific term, it is recommended to research the word etymology and history to make it clear what historical or cultural events serves as the background for the word appearance.
  • If the word has some obscene meaning, then it is also recommended to provide it and explain to prevent readers from certain misunderstanding of the context.
  • Make sure you know the peculiarities of writing an essay on tangible (concrete words) and intangible (abstract). It is much easier to write about a concrete term as it has fewer shades of meaning and is thus easier to explain. The definition of abstract terms, on the contrary, may require more effort and focus. For example, it becomes really hard to define terms denoting emotions. When you take the word “love,” it can be used in a variety of contexts: in friendly relations, romantic or family relationships, as well as in regards to food, animals, activities, etc.

How to Ensure Proper Development of the Definition Essay:

  • Make sure you identify the core function of the word. What is the reason why you have chosen this specific term? How is the word used? In that contexts? If it is used in different contexts, does it have different shades of meaning?
  • What about the structure? Reflect on the word organization: if it is a compound, then how do the parts fit in together? Provide examples of how the meaning changes when you change the structure (if you add suffixes, prefixes, etc.).
  • Analyze the connection of the chosen word with other words similar either in spelling or in meaning. Provide examples.

Overall, when you want to provide a successful definition essay, make sure you do not select too complex words or concepts that have numerous shades of meaning.

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