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What is a Definition Essay? Find Out Secret Tips!

Throughout high school and college years, students face hundreds of different tasks, so it is important to know their peculiarities and be able to complete the task with ease.

If you are visiting this page, you probably want to know what a definition essay is and how to deliver it in the best possible way. First, let us start with the essay definition.

The main requirement of such an essay is to define a chosen word. However, you not only need to explain the term but also complete a research, dive into definition’s history and provide evidence. It is a great assignment to show your writing and language skills, as well as a chance to show how well you can work with different sources.

There are three main steps to complete a great essay:

  • Explain the term;
  • Present only clear data;
  • Add examples, facts and jokes to the text.

If you want your essay to be flawless try to avoid wordiness, don’t use ‘when’ or ‘where’ words and try to choose a specific topic, not a general one. The most common mistakes also include:

  • Trying to explain a broad topic, which won’t fit in the size of the paper;
  • Writing about well-known matters, which don’t have any conflicts and differences in interpretations;
  • Not including examples;
  • Copying other works.

A definition essay should consist of three main parts:

  • Introduction. You should always start your definition paper with a hook. Depending on the topic, your hook may be a joke, a term, a rhetoric question, a quote or a fact. You should also write a thesis statement, which gives the reader a clear picture of what your paper will be about. Don’t forget that it is the heart of your essay, so try to sound professional, clear and engaging to catch interest of the reader;
  • Body paragraphs. In this section, you need to explain the term and discuss all the arguments you may have. Create a separate paragraph for every evidence or supportive fact you have;
  • Conclusion. This section should be the shortest and consist of a couple sentences, restating your thesis and explaining the definition once again. Don’t insert any new details and concentrate on marking the key points you have made during your work on the paper.

There are four different ways of defining a term depending on the subject. They include:

  • Defining by the structure. Explain the term from the point of its organization and structure. Start with the smallest details and finish with the general picture, like putting pieces of the puzzle together;
  • Defining by the function. Here you should explain how something works. This may be a device, a tool or any other instrument. In such a case, your essay will look like a manual or instruction. However, don’t sound too boring and add interesting details to the text;
  • Defining by ‘what the term doesn’t mean’. Explain the term not with brief words but using examples, anecdotes and stories. In such a way, you will make your essay more interesting and engaging, without boring the reader;
  • Defining by the analysis. Make a comparison of class representatives, explaining why your definition is different. Here your goal is to make your term stand out from the rest. For example, you can analyze how Bengal cats differ from other breeds.

Don’t forget that a definition paper is quite different from other essays and you need to balance objective approach, professional terms and a personalized approach to show that you are not only able to collect information but can also make it interesting for the audience.

Examples of Definition Essay

There are many ways how students simplify the completion of the task, one of which is downloading definition essay examples. With the help of such samples, scholars get a chance to obtain latest information on the paper’s requirements, find interesting ideas for the assignment and avoid the most common mistakes.

If you are also struggling to complete the task, try to use a definition essay example and you will see how much simpler the task will become!

Outline for Definition Essay

Once you are ready to get started, you need to choose a right definition. It is the most important step for a definition paper, as you need to understand the term and have access to multiple sources to be able to provide a thorough analysis.

Try to choose a definition, which is not widely used or which has various interpretations. This will help you to analyze ideas of opponents and show that you have worked with various sources properly.

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Then you need to complete a definition essay outline. It is a plan of the future paper, which will help you to stick to the point and always concentrate on important elements. A regular outline looks like a list or a scheme, where you note down all the things you want to include to the text.

Your outline will be a skeleton of the future essay, so make sure that it is always somewhere nearby. With its assistance, you will always be able to follow the structure, making your paper clear, readable and professional.

The format of your extended definition essay depends on the formatting style you will need to use. You may be asked to select MLA, APA, Oxford, Harvard or one of other styles depending on the major and subject you are studying.

Each of these styles has different requirements, so before delivering the assignment you need to check whether it meets all the demands. If your professor doesn’t have any specific requirements, you just need to follow general rules:

  • Clear fonts like Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri;
  • 12 pt size;
  • Double-spaced;
  • 1’ margins on all sides.

Once you are done, you should check your definition paper several times to fix all the typos and mistakes. If you are not sure whether you can complete this step on your own, you can ask friends or relatives for help.

Definition Essay Topics to Choose from

Very often students not only need to learn how to write a definition essay but also to choose the topic on their own. This may be quite puzzling, as many scholars choose the first idea not to waste too much time on picking a topic to discuss.

However, a wrong topic may play a bad joke on you, and you can even end up with a low grade. That is why selecting a winning topic is crucial for a definition paper.

Here are definition essay topics, which may boost your imagination and help to get started:

  1. A universal and an individual meaning of happiness;
  2. What means healthy living? What is it for you?
  3. Skills any teacher should have;
  4. The definition and meaning of love;
  5. What are the premises of a long-lasting relationship;
  6. What words can be associated with freedom?
  7. A real hero: what qualities should he possess?
  8. Beauty vs ugliness: a subjective opinion;
  9. Can poverty be satisfying?
  10. How did your parents explain the importance of family values to you?
  11. What makes a happy employee;
  12. Define the main components of a great vacation;
  13. What kindness is for you?
  14. What does respect mean for different people?
  15. What makes a winning term paper?
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At first, such topics may sound too general but your task is to define the key term, complete analysis of the sources and provide your personal opinion on the matter, narrowing the subject to specific arguments. This may sound quite challenging but there is nothing impossible and you will surely succeed!

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