What is an argumentative essay?
Writing Tips & Guides

What is a definition essay?

A definition essay is an essay that expands upon a particular definition of a word, term, or phrase, or concept. It defines it in full length. You may think that it is just that. But a definition term is not about the kind of simple definitions you may use.  The defining characteristic of a definition essay is that it has to pertain to a complex topic or issue or word. A definition essay cannot be used for a term that lacks complexity and subtlety and has a very straightforward meaning. It can only be used for phrases and words which mean differently for different people.

Regardless of the kind of views, a definition essay broadens our understanding of such terms and is very subjective and personal, by nature. The terms to be used for definition essays would preferably be something over which a considerable amount of difference in opinion exists. Thus, it can be defined differently depending on a person’s point of view and hence it can possess multifarious meanings. Examples of terms or words which can be used as the subject of a definition essay include abstract nouns, such as nature, love, valor, bravery, truth, etc which creates different and often opposing sensations in people. For example, if the term beauty were to be used for a definition essay, some people may write it from a physical perspective, while others may think of beauty from a spiritual perspective and describe it so.

Important points to consider

When you are selecting a word to be used as the subject of a definition essay, check whether it fulfills the following requirements: 1. Does it have multiple meanings? 2. Is it complex? 3. Is there a possibility of discussing it in a relevant and meaningful way? For example: compare two words such as the sun and a needle. Test these terms with these questions and check if the term can fit all the three tests and then start writing the essay.

The procedure for writing the essay is quite clearcut. The standard essay structure has to be followed: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. In the thesis part of your introduction, explicitly mention what term you are going to define and why so. Present examples, facts, and stories to expound on the term and trying to bring different perspectives on it. All the information should be clearly, lucidly presented, and outlined.

Different types of definition essay

There are different kinds of definitions, which can be used in the creation of a  definition essay.  These techniques can be used to elaborate on the definition within the body of the essay. These methods can be used in their own self or in combination. These include analysis, classification, comparison, details,  use of examples and incidents, negations, origin and causes, results, effects, and uses as well as Process Analysis.  Thus to create a definition- define the term by function, structure, or analysis. You can elaborate further by stating clearly what the definition does not include or define and thus you can set the limits. The writer can then use his or her imagination to build up a convincing account and portrayal based on these. The writer should use evidence and facts which support his definition and he can build up his story around it so that the reader is left with a clear understanding of the term in all its complexities.

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