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How To Write Definition Essay

How To Write Definition Essay(Start-End)| Outline & Structure


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Here’s the brutal truth about how to write definition essay. There are WAY too many students in colleges and universities today that think “defining a word ” is enough.

If only it was that easy…

If you’re serious about learning how to write a definition essay, you need to read this content to the end. Besides,

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Every student is given the task to write a definition essay at one point during their academic career. It can be a daunting prospect, but by following a few simple steps, it can be easily accomplished. In this blog post, we will give you a few tips on how to write definition essay that will get you the grade you desire.

Stay tuned!

  • What is a Definition Essay?
  • How To Write Definition Essay
  • Writing process of a definition essay
  • The Structure of your Definition Essay
  • Definition Essay Post-Writing Stage
  • Definition Essay Example
  • Writing Definition Essay Help

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What is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a unique type of essay because it involves the formal explanation of a certain word. Considering that this is an essay that is all focused on defining the meaning of a single word. You as a writer or scholar cannot pick a simple word that has a straightforward meaning. You are better off writing about a complex word such as ‘friendship’ or ‘love’ which has many meanings. The meaning of a word such as ‘love’ can be explored in a lot of words because love is a complex word with deep meaning and might mean different things in a different context.

A definition essay might be challenging to write as compared to other types of essays because it requires you to write a personal yet academic definition of a word. And at the same time, the definition will have to be lengthy and thus the reason to choose a rich ‘word’ with a lot of meaning in it.

How To Write Definition Essay

 Choosing the right word. 

The best way to find a word to define in this type of essay is to choose an abstract word that has a complex meaning. It would be good if you avoid nouns that refer to a place or thing because they are very simple for this type of essay. However, a noun that refers to an idea can work better for you when writing a definition essay. If you were to describe a noun like ‘mother’ in a definition essay, it would be straightforward and not give you a lot to write about whereas if you were to describe a noun like ‘family’, it can give you so much to write on since many people have different meanings of the word family.

Choose a contrary/disputable word

The ‘word’ you are defining in your essay doesn’t just have to be complex. A word can be complex but simple to explain and not give you much to write about. Another thing to consider is if the word has a different meaning to different people. That is what makes a word like ‘love’ a good topic to write about because different individuals can describe love differently. One crucial thing to bear in mind is that the content in this type of essay is subjective because as a writer you shall be analyzing a word from your perspective. If your definition of a certain word is what you can find in a dictionary, then your essay might lack weight.

Choose a word you know about

The online dictionary definition of a word cannot tell you everything about a word. Even other sites like Wikipedia have their definition of a word. Considering that you will be required to elaborate extensively on the word you choose, you must have a base of knowledge or experience with the word you choose. If you have never heard a term before and you are not familiar with it, it is better to avoid that word because you lack reference points on that topic. Let’s say a word like ‘metrosexual’, if that word is new to you, it would be good not to write about it. You won’t be cocksure if the definition you give that word is right.

Check the dictionary definition of that word

You will not rely on the dictionary completely while writing a definition essay but as they say “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it yet”. The dictionary has the simplest meanings of words and you can use it to compare if your understanding of the word you are defining is in line with the dictionary meaning of it. The formal meaning of a word in a dictionary can give you a good starting point on which to base your writing.

Check the word’s origin or background

It can be helpful to know where a word came from, a word such as ‘bandit’ was coined by Shakespeare and that can give you an idea of who introduced it and the drive behind it. The history of a word gives you an insight into the definition of that word and its meaning in society.

Now that you have a list of the terms you believe you are capable of bringing out their definitions properly, it’s time you decide.

What idea are you presenting? This is the Centre of your essay. The whole content will be rotating around this term as you reveal the deep meaning it conceals.

 Do a Thorough Research

No matter how well you understand the term, you need to do a thorough research to get a deeper understanding of the definition of the term.

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Tips on How to go about the writing process of a definition essay

  • The first thing to do when writing a definition essay is the analysis aspect of it. If you can separate the word you are defining into various parts and define each part separately. If you are defining a word such as re-election, you can separate “re-” and “election” and give different explanations for each.
  • The second tip to keep in mind while writing would be to classify the term into classes and parts of speech to which it belongs in the dictionary. That can give you a context on how this word has been used in different social settings.
  • The third tip to guide you in your definition essay writing process is to compare a familiar term that is close to the word you are defining. Many people reading have never heard of a word such as ‘doppelganger’ which refers to the double of a living person. However, if you were to compare it with “lookalike”, which is close and more relatable to a lot of it, you shall have an easy time defining that word.
  • The fourth tip to guide your writing would be to include physical or traditional thoughts that come to your mind when you hear a word. When you hear a word such as a “gallery” or a “space”, you feel certain sentiments towards such a place. Your mind associates such places with a serene environment, with a relaxing environment. Don’t be afraid to include these non-tangible features when defining a word.
  • The fifth tip that can guide you in crafting a compelling definition essay is the use of examples in your writing. Many people tend to relate to stories better and thus if you could come up with a good story that helps expound on the meaning of your word, it can help in clarifying an abstract concept into an easy-to-understand one. If you are defining a word such as “love”, you can go on and explain an act of love you witnessed recently. Someone who wrote a love song to a friend for his or her birthday is showing an act of love and if you know of any such stories, you can include them in your definition essay.
  • The sixth tip in the writing of your definition essay is to use negation. Negation refers to explaining what a term is not. Let’s look at a term such as “anti-social”, this word is often thought to mean a person who is reserved and keeps to himself or herself whereas the real meaning of the word is going against social norms such as stealing or lying. And thus a person can be outgoing but still anti-social.

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The Structure of your Definition Essay

You won’t just write your essay blindly, your essay shall follow a certain structure; the first part of your essay shall be the introduction section.

Selecting your topic and doing your research is not enough if you can’t arrange your work. This calls for you to understand the definition essay structure. Below, we break it down for you;

How to Write Definition Essay Introduction

The introductory paragraph contains the general statement whereby you introduce your term. Clearly indicate the specific topic of the essay.

The introduction must contain the official meaning of the word which your reader can find In the English web dictionary. However, if a few meaning pops up, choose the best.

You can also outline the contents of the essay here. Point out what is to be expected of your essay by mentioning the subtopics.

Start by an interesting or funny fact about the word to attract the reader’s attention. To do this, you can use a proverb, a famous quotation or a shocking truth in regard to the topic. Nevertheless, all depends on what you want to achieve. Usually, this part should be brief and informative.

But, It includes the thesis statement, which usually comes at the end of the introduction. In this section, use one statement to define the word. Besides, use your research findings combined with the dictionary meaning of the term to come up with your own definition.

In summary, within the introduction part, you will state the dictionary or traditional meaning of a word which shall set the precedent for your meaning of the word in the subsequent paragraph. This is very important because in many cases the traditional meaning of a word shall be different from your understanding of that word.

Writing Essay Body Paragraphs of Definition Essay

Depending on the complexity of the chosen subject and the demand of your readers, you may be required to create 3 or more paragraphs for your essay.

This is where you provide all the information and facts on the word you have chosen. By giving the in-depth description of the word. This can be considered your thesis statement section because it is unique to you and is written based on your thoughts. The definition of the word in your thesis shall be brief and to the point. You will delve more into it in the body of your essay. It is easy to repeat yourself when defining a word, a good definition shouldn’t feel repetitive, try to come up with different angles for defining your word. And as you write the definition, each tactic you use to define a word should be in a separate paragraph.

Also, you should point out the instances the term has been used. How and why it was used and what impact did it bring. In addition, explain its use and how it does something.

More so, provide the historical information about the term as well as it’s origin.

These demands an explanation how it came about existing and the evolution of how it’s been used through the years,

For example the word ‘’Justice’’. It’s origin is Latin-Justus, which later evolved to justita-Latin to Old French to justice-Old English which meant ‘’ administration of the law’’ to Just-English and now, Justice.

To be safe, use examples that will illustrate and support your definition.

For Instance, if you choose a term that has different meanings, explain each of the meaning in their own different paragraphs. Remember, with every new idea brings a new paragraph. Particularly, ensure you have used at least 3 examples to distinctly explain each definition.

It is important to point out common mistakes people make while defining the word. Specifically, what they misunderstand and bring out the clarification. Hence, your readers will understand the clear meaning of the term.

Finally, compare and contrast your definition of the term with another like meaning. Remember in definition essays, you are trying to figure out what examples will enable your readers to get the meaning of the term in the right way.

How To Write Definition Essay Conclusion

The conclusion in definition essays is usually short but still worth mentioning. You should briefly restate contents of your writing, highlighting the important details.

Sum up your essay by mentioning the term and reminding your readers about it. Briefly refer to your main points.

Make a review of the details given in the body and conclude your essay with a clause that will connect your readers to the discussed word.

Definition Essay Post-Writing Stage

Revise Your Work

Read your essay 1-2 times noting the things you would like to add, remove or change.


Re-read your essay, possibly removing all the flaws. Check out the spelling mistakes and correct them. Get rid of all the unnecessary pieces.

Get A Second Eye To Check The Essay

Ask your friend to read the essay and help you with the editing. Let them comment on your work and get their opinion.


Read again. Find and correct all the mistakes in your essay before presenting it to your readers.

Note that post writing is the final but the most important step in your definition essay writing. Going through your essay to ensure it is error free fortifies a presentation of pure work.

  • What To Check Before Submitting Definition Essay
  • Method you use in choosing the term?
  • How much can you explain the term?
  • What level do you understand the term well?
  • How broad/diverse is the term?
  • How many meanings does the word have?
  • What does your thesis statement contain?
  • How much are you required to write?
  • What will be the presentation of your introduction and definition of the word?
  • How are you going to arrange the paragraphs?
  • In what way will you place the conclusion?
  • Dos and Don’ts in writing a definition essays


  • Narrow down a word that has a wider meaning. For instance, instead of writing about fear, consider a specific type of fear such as panic fear. This will make it easier to write your essay.
  • Use transitions for your essay to flow well.
  • Be creative and come up with unique definitions
  • Always proofread your essay before submission.


  • Don’t select well-known words.
  • Over or under detail your essay. Always consider the word limit.
  • Don’t forget to include evidence.
  • Don’t copy word by word the existing definition of your word.

Definition Essay Example

Kindly go through these college definition essay examples provided here. Be keen on the structure since any of them can be used as a definition essay template in future. However, if you wish to use the same template for you definition essay, well and good.

Writing Definition Essay Help

Now you are acquainted with the basic tips on how to write definition essay. What if you still feel that writing a definition essay is beyond your abilities? No need to worry. Contact our writers and you will be guided through on how to write definition essay perfectly.

Definition Essay Help is for every student who wants any kind of help in writing a great definition essay. All you need is to contact the expert writers to get the help you need. Remember, you can get any writing help you need even on other types of academic papers like Biology papers from our Biology essay writing service.

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