How to Write a Definition Essay: User-Friendly College Guide

How to Write a Definition Essay: User-Friendly College Guide
Table of Contents
  1. How to Write a Definition Essay: User-Friendly College Guide
  2. What is a Definition Essay?
  3. Developing a Definition Essay Outline
  4. How to Write a Definition Essay Introduction?
  5. A Definition Essay Thesis Statement
  6. Working on the Body Paragraphs
  7. How to Write a Definition Essay Conclusion?
  8. Post-Writing Tips and Tricks
  9. Definition Essay Topics
  10. Definition Essay on Love
  11. Family Definition Essay
  12. Freedom Definition Essay
  13. Happiness Definition Essay
  14. Common Topics for Definition Essay
  15. Extended Definition Essay Topics
  16. Definition Argument Essay Topics
  17. Definition Essay Topics for College
  18. Final Thoughts

What is a definition essay? If you ask this question, you might be suffering from this assignment from your English composition teacher. A paper of this type is more than defining a word or term. Read this detailed guide on how to write a definition essay of college level to understand the ways to structure your paper and pick relevant topics. In case of troubles, order professional essay writing online.

What is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a type of academic writing paper assigned to let the students learn the meaning of new words and train paraphrasing skills. One may view it as a detailed dictionary entry. It does not mean it is enough to provide a copy-pasted definition from a dictionary and leave the essay half of a page in length. The idea is to let the student express the meaning of the word in own words, rewrite dictionary definitions, and provide examples to show his or her understanding of the word. You will not need many sources for this essay.

Several types of words are known, and you should see the difference between each of them:

  • Abstract
  • Special
  • No common definition
  • Disputed
  • Numerous interpretations

So, how to write a definition essay step-by-step? A definition essay outline is the 1st element of structure we will discuss.

Developing a Definition Essay Outline

The primary step on the way to success is creating an outline. In this case, follow the standard 5-paragraph essay structure. Develop a plan for the body listing supporting evidence in the order of significance. The outline of the definition essay depends on the complexity of the selected word and profound research:

  • Hook sentence
  • Fats overview of the word/phrase
  • Thesis statement
Body paragraph one
  • A historical background of the selected term
Body paragraph two
  • Interpretations of the term found in the official dictionaries
Body paragraph three
  • Definition of the term based on writer’s experience & examples
  • Summary of the central points (topic sentences)
  • Explanation of the role the word plays in writer’s life

That is a good sample & template at the same time. We recommend keeping it in front of your eyes while typing. To explain how to write a definition essay in details, it is critical to take a look at each separate element of this paper.

How to Write a Definition Essay Introduction?

Although a definition essay is narrow-focused, it can be engaging. Introduce the term after demonstrating an attention grabber that will make your audience interested in observing the word from new aspects. What can be a good attention grabber? Think about using one of the following devices associated with the term: rhetorical question, fact statistics, joke, citation/quotation of a famous person, other literary devices (eg., metaphor or analogy).

After that, specify which term you plan to discuss. Taking something curious from the history of the word usage and its origins would be a great start as well. In the opening paragraph, a student can insert the official term’s definition from the English dictionary (it is better to paraphrase it). Highlight the fact that the term is multi-dimensional if it is.

A Definition Essay Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the enclosing part of the introduction. In this type of paper, a thesis statement has to explain the chosen word in a sturdy, clear way that you believe is the most accurate. It is not enough to point out the word to discuss. Mind these patterns to use as a basis for your thesis sentence(s):

  • Introductory phrase - Word Itself - Class - Definition
  • Word - Definition - Common Interpretation or Association

A nice thesis could sound this way: “Let me see if I can describe the original definition of beauty as something that makes people satisfied & pleased.” Never include many details in the thesis. It has to be no longer than 2 sentences in length.

Working on the Body Paragraphs

Every new body paragraph should begin with the main claim (topic sentence) that must contain a summary/review of the entire section. Explain to the audience what the word stands for in different ways. The good idea would be to begin your body by telling the history of the term or an exciting story related to it. Recall the way the official interpretation changed through ages. Add all possible definitions that you’ve found in both primary & secondary sources one-by-one, including your understanding of the term.

Several ways to explain the word are available:

  • Describe its function: the way it works and what for;
  • Explain the structure (organization);
  • Evaluate the chosen word (compare & contrast the official meaning to the words with similar usage; come ups with some examples to illustrate the word; detect the features that make your term unique);
  • Clarify the word that can be understood in the wrong manner. Mention the distinctive features of it.

Remember to support your definitions with examples and evidence found in the primary & secondary sources like books, journals, newspapers, videos, websites, interviews, polls, etc. use minimum 3 examples throughout the text.

How to Write a Definition Essay Conclusion?

A conclusion is the last paragraph of an essay. It should not be long, but the goal of this section is to inform the reader of the importance of the term analyzed throughout the paper and offer its proper implementations. Put down several sentences to sum up your writing. Rewrite the thesis & central claims and oversee the word and the supporting points provided in the body paragraphs. Think about whether people use this word in everyday life. Does it have any special meaning to you? During the research, you may have changed your opinion about the sense of the selected word, and you should share it with the audience. Experts recommend finishing with a rhetorical question.

Post-Writing Tips and Tricks

That is not all if you wish to learn how to write a dissertation of A-level. Keep in mind the steps to take once you are ready with your final draft:

  • Revision - Ask someone around to check your paper and assess its overall quality. Check whether all definitions are clearly expressed. Ask the people that dedicate time to read your essay if they understand all the definitions and the term’s daily usage. Make sure each new paragraph starts with the transitional phrase.
  • Editing - Proofreading & editing will help to avoid common grammar, spelling, & punctuation mistakes that may be the severe obstacles on the way to perfect grade. Are the sentences complete and readable? The good idea is to scan your entire content with the help of various free or paid grammar & plagiarism checkers. Free online generators are another great option for students.
  • Submission - After you’re done with proofreading & editing, polish your final paper before sending it to your teacher via e-mail or printing it to pass after the class.

Definition Essay Topics

Before we move to the list of definition essay topics, we must decide how to choose the word if you have a right to select it on your own. It is better to skip words with a narrow meaning. Picking the words like “chair” or “toothpaste” is not a good idea. Experts recommend selecting words with multiple meanings or broad definition to involve your imagination & creativity while writing. Your essay should not be a single paragraph! It is possible to pick several subjects to define and discuss. To spread your paper, you may also include the elements of compare & contracts writing or cause & effect paper to help with identifying terms. Think about topics that have many examples. Consult the tutor before starting your essay. It is time to look at the list of excellent topic ideas, or contact professional academic writers to obtain quick help with your assignments!

Definition Essay on Love

A definition essay on love can be multifaceted - from explaining the difference between this emotion and hatred to providing an explanation of the word based on personal experience. Turn on your imagination!

  1. Speaking of love

  2. When love hurts

  3. Love as a theme in life

  4. Describing love feelings

  5. Three different definitions of love

  6. Greatest love of my life

  7. Features that make love stand out form the rest of emotions

  8. Love is patient, love is kind

  9. A universal definition of love - right or wrong?

  10. Love vs. hatred

Family Definition Essay

Middle school students often face the need to write a family definition essay. If you don’t know what to discuss, use one of the offered ideas:

  1. Features of the friendly family

  2. Interpreting the word “family”

  3. Wrong perception of family

  4. Identifying parents & parenthood

  5. List of family members

  6. Defining “family ties”

  7. How many people can be called a family?

  8. Are same-gender families acceptable in our society?

  9. The way a little child understand the word “family”

  10. Divorce and its impact on family

Freedom Definition Essay

A freedom definition essay is another great type of paper to discuss. The word itself has a broad meaning. Pick one of the offered subjects:

  1. How I understand freedom

  2. Freedom on the example of the United States

  3. A society without any restrictions

  4. The meaning of political freedom

  5. Living free vs. being a slave

  6. What is a freedom of speech?

  7. Is freedom for women possible in the Arabian countries?

  8. Freedom of religion and dreaming

  9. Movement for freedom in the US

  10. The role of democracy in the modern community

Happiness Definition Essay

In a happiness definition essay, one may cover many different, exciting topics. Grab some ideas for inspiration:

  1. The magical word “happiness”

  2. A happy person

  3. The ways to become happy

  4. Happiness from a scientific point of view

  5. Being happy when everyone’s around is not

  6. Ways to express happiness

  7. Things that make an average human happy

  8. Happiness and love

  9. Living in a happy nation

  10. Achieving happiness through making dreams come true

Common Topics for Definition Essay

Do you need some common topics for definition essay? That could be any topic in the world, any word!

  1. Having a piece of mind

  2. A human with a sense of humor

  3. Freedom of choice

  4. Right for privacy

  5. A good tutor or mentor

  6. What does it mean to be a leader?

  7. How to become a team player?

  8. How can a true friendship be defined?

  9. A successful movie

  10. Bad parent’s features

Extended Definition Essay Topics

The extended definition essay topics include terms that can be interpreted in many different ways. Those are brand words. The examples could be:

  1. Being a good person nowadays

  2. Being a literate person

  3. Political correctness: meaning & examples

  4. Becoming a true leader

  5. What does scholar mean to you?

  6. What is the difference between intellect & intelligence?

  7. The evolution of heroism

  8. Explaining a specific slang term, such as “swag”

  9. The universal meaning of beauty

  10. Identifying what respect is

Definition Argument Essay Topics

If you choose one of the definition argument essay topics, remember to explain your position. Come up with a compelling thesis statement then. The examples of such topics are:

  1. Terrible life problems

  2. Video gaming

  3. Human trafficking

  4. Euthanasia: pros & cons

  5. Elected female officials

  6. Religious persecution

  7. Pro-life vs. pro-choice groups

  8. What are the designer babies?

  9. How to define a child obesity problem?

  10. Overbearing sports parents

Definition Essay Topics for College

The last section offers some definition essay topics for college. We have selected the best ideas for you!

  1. Racial background

  2. Male chauvinism

  3. The development of sexual minority movement

  4. Achieving career goals

  5. Meaning of being successful

  6. The characteristics of evil people

  7. Analogy, allegory, metaphor, & simile

  8. Everything about Anti-Semitism

  9. The love between man and woman and parent and child

  10. The far-far-away kingdom

Hopefully, one of this topic is the best option for you. There is one more thing left to discuss.

Final Thoughts

Before you go, save this “how to write a definition essay” checklist elsewhere!

Ensure the selected word is multi-dimensional and specific at the same time;

  • Eliminate the examples that are irrelevant;
  • Decide whether the introduction clearly states the definition;
  • Check if you have applied the characteristics of short and extended definitions;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness and clarity of the paper’s structure;
  • Add transitional phrases where missing;
  • Test if you have created well-reasoned meanings, each supported with vivid examples;
  • Assess the quality of your ideas & writing tone.

Once you’re done with this checklist, you’re ready. If you feel like you need help with editing or writing from scratch, you can always count on the team of friendly academic writers available 24/7 online!