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How to Write a Definition Essay to Attract Readers’ Attention

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How To Write a Definition Essay

It can be extremely hard to create a definition essay. Such kind of paper presupposes defining a specific term. You need to give your own interpretation of a particular word and not that presented in the dictionary. The presented definition has to be accurate and complete. When producing such type of academic work, you should pick the term which you can find much useful information about. Below, there are several helpful tips on how to write a definition essay.

Section 1: Selecting an Appropriate Word

  1. Select an abstract notion with a complicated meaning.

You should choose an abstract word for examination. If you take a concrete term, it will be difficult for you to write a deep paper, as you may not find enough information about it.

  • It is not worth picking the nouns relating to places, objects or people when writing a definition essay, as they are too narrow. It is much better to deal with the nouns referring to some concepts.
  • For instance, the word “apartment” is inappropriate for producing such type of paper, as it is quite plain. However, the word “home” is an absolutely different thing. It is the notion that involves many items. By choosing it, you will be able to view it from different angles and give its proper definition. As to the word “apartment,” it is just a frame that holds no interest for readers.
  1. Ensure that the term is debatable.

Apart from being abstract, the term should signify something special for different people.

  • A definition paper is a subjective piece of writing. When composing it, you need to present your own definition and perform your own analysis of the picked word. If the point you have reached after examining the term is the same as that of other people, it means that your work is not profound enough.

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  1. Pick the notion you are aware of.

It goes without saying that you will find a complete and precise definition of the chosen term in a dictionary. However, you need to define the term in your own words which means you should be knowledgeable about the picked item.

  • For example, if you do not know what the word “eccentric” means, it will be hard for you to write a paper about it. Due to the lack of knowledge, you will not be sure whether the way which you are defining the selected word in is suitable.
  1. Consider the definition provided in the dictionary.

Describing the concept in your own words does not mean that you are not allowed to consult a dictionary. Read the definition of your word in the dictionary to see whether you fully understand its meaning.

  • g., the word “companion” means “a person working in an organization or accompanying another person.” Certainly, when analyzing such term, you may give it a more detailed explanation. Still, the definition presented in the dictionary will give you a good start in making your own interpretation of the term.
  1. Investigate the origin of the selected term.

Find the word you have picked for analysis in the dictionary.

  • Dictionaries contain useful background information about all words. If you refer to the dictionary, you will manage to trace the origin of the term and find out what meaning it has at present.

Check our list of 100 Best Definition Essay Topics

Our definition essay samples:
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Section 2: What Makes a Proper Definition

  1. Analyze the word.

Break the term into several parts and examine each of them. The analysis of each of the parts should be presented in separate paragraphs.

  • You can divide the word “relationship” into “relation” and “ship.” The word “motherhood” can be broken into “mother” and “hood.”
  • In order to make a detailed analysis of each component of your term, you need to compare the chosen word with its opposites and single out the class the word belongs to.
  • Mind that applying the aforementioned methods is effective when it goes about compound words. For example, it is impossible to break the word “hate” or “passion’ into parts. If you talk about “romantic passion,” you can divide it into such parts as “romantic” and “passion.”
  1. Categorize the word.

Determine the part of speech and class the term belongs to based on the dictionary definition.

  • Such data will be helpful to you when defining the term.
  1. Compare an unknown word with the things you are aware of.

If you are going to analyze an unfamiliar term, you should explain it by referring to the ideas which an average person is knowledgeable about.

  • For example, a lot of people have never come across the term “camaraderie.” Its dictionary definition is “a feeling of companionship between the people who work together.” The word “camaraderie” can be compared to “friendship” which is known to everyone.
  1. Describe the peculiarities of the term.

Provide a detailed and generally accepted description of the chosen term.

  • For instance, the word “apartment” is associated with a particular building. However, if you say “home,” you connect it with a pleasant, safe, and comfortable place. The said features can be taken into account when analyzing the word “home.”
  1. Give vivid examples.

It is much easier to perceive information if illustrative examples are provided throughout the text. Thus, try to tell a story relating to your term to help readers grasp its meaning.

  • For instance, when creating a definition essay about “courage,” you may describe the situation when someone has shown tremendous courage. You may talk about the man who has protected a woman from a dangerous dog or something like that.
  1. Make denial to spell out the wrong meaning of the term.

Some terms are often misunderstood. In order to underline the exact meaning of the selected concept, you need to state the issues it is not connected with.

  • Let us analyze the term “bravery.” It is often mistakenly connected with the absence of fear. Still, many people will disagree saying it is the state of acting despite panic and fear.
  1. Provide basic data.

While conducting research on the selected word, you need to gather concrete facts about its etymology. State where the concept comes from and how it has gained its current meaning.

Section 3: Definition Essay Structure

  1. Present a common definition.

The introduction of your paper should provide a basic definition of the term you are going to analyze.

  • By presenting the dictionary definition, you will provide readers with the basic data about your term. In this way, it will be easier for you to explain readers the meaning of the selected word.
  • It is specifically important to present the dictionary definition in case your own interpretation differs from the established one.
  1. Produce a thesis statement presenting your own explanation of the term.

Your thesis statement is your own definition of the examined term.

  • Your definition should be concise. You will discuss it in detail in the essay body.
  • Do not use the passive voice when giving an interpretation of the term. Avoid such phrases as “is when…” and “is how…”
  • Avoid repeating a part of the analyzed term in your explanation.
  1. Each part of a definition should be analyzed in a separate paragraph.

Devote a separate paragraph to each of the techniques which you have used for interpreting your term.

  • There is no need to adopt all the known approaches to examining the term. Use a few methods to present a detailed analysis of the concept you have chosen. Mind that not all methods are suitable for exploring specific terms.
  1. Summarize the key points of your paper.

The chief points of your essay should be concisely outlined at the beginning of the conclusion.

  • Your conclusion should not be complicated with numerous intricate details. You can sum up the main points by looking through the topic sentences of the body paragraphs.
  • One more way to finish your essay is to refer to the thesis statement presented in your introductory section.
  1. Explain what effect your definition essay has produced on you (if you want).

If the analyzed term is connected with the events that play an important role in your life, briefly describe it in your conclusion.

  • Establish the connection between the discussed concept and its definition provided in the thesis statement. Do not talk about the experience that disproves the data presented in your paper.

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