What is a Definition Essay?

This is a writing that explains the meaning of a term. Some terms such as glass, book or tree have definite and clear meanings whereas others such as honesty, honor or love are invisible or rather abstract thus depending on individual’s judgment.

Three Steps to Effective Definition

  1. Tell readers what term is being defined.
  2. Present clear and basic information.
  3. Use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

 Choosing a Definition

In writing a definition essay, choosing a definition makes a significant step. In order that you be in a position to provide others with an accurate meaning of a term, you must first understand it. Reading of dictionary is essential to this but you should avoid lifting the definition. Provide a short own definition of the term. Be specific or particular about the term you are defining. E.g. when writing about the term “love,” there would be an endless chain of definitions. Therefore, it would be more reasonable to specify it as “romantic love,” “platonic love” or “first love.”

 Thesis Statement of a Definition Essay

The term being defined is both identified and briefly defined by the thesis statement.

 How to Write an Effective Definition

  1. Come up with a definition. There are a number of ways of defining a term. Below are some options.
    1. Define by function: Explain what something does or how something works.
    2. Define by structure: Tell how something is organized or put together.
    3. Define by analysis: weigh it with members of its class then show the differences. The differences form the characteristic features making the term to be outstanding i.e. they give meaning to the term. E.g. give a comparison between Siberian husky to other dogs like lap dogs, mutts or sporting dogs.

Ex: A Siberian husky is a dog reputed for its ability to tolerate cold, its distinctive features, and its keen strength and stamina.

    1. Define by what the term does not mean: in so doing, the ready is able to have a clear grasp of the meaning of the term in question.

Apply simple and clear points and illustrations. Make appropriate choice of facts and examples to provide a complete explanation to your definition. Find the type of examples that would make the reader to easily understand the meaning of the term. Use examples that catches the attention of the readers. If there is need for a short story as a way of bringing out the meaning of the term, then do so. Avoid illustrations or examples that gives no support to the definition.

NOTE: A definition essay is a writing explaining the meaning of a term. In writing this kind of essay, always identify the term being defined to the readers. In addition, provide a clear and basic definition supported by material facts, examples or anecdotes that enables the readers to easily understand the term.

Below are some common definition essay topics:

  • Kindness
  • Sense of Humor
  • Love
  • Charisma
  • Team Player
  • Optimism
  • Beauty
  • Respect
  • Ambitions

It is very important you choose a definition essay topic from a subject of your interest and which you are conversant with. It would be even better if you have a direct experience in the subject of the matter.