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    How to Write a Definition Essay – Ideas, Examples, Structure

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    Writing a definition essay is not easy. It requires additional research along with concrete facts. To write a definition essay, you have to pick a word term and describe it in all possible ways. However, it is better if your term denotes some abstract things. It is common for students at colleges and universities to write such type of an essay. Their professors explain and give clear instructions on how to write a definition essay. Moreover, many online sites contain image titled write a definition essay, where you can click and learn all the information you need. If you’ve decided just to improve your English and writing skills, learn how to write a definition essay, stay tuned and attentive.

    Choosing a Definition

    This process is the most important when it comes to writing a definition essay. It is significant to choose a word which has a complex meaning. A simple word, the one we use in our everyday life, will not give you much information to dwell upon. Words like ‘window,’ ‘cup’ or ‘hand’ will not show good results.

     A complex term, on the contrary, usually has denotative and connotative meaning. Your term should describe a concept which is abstract. Amidst these can be ‘happiness,’ ‘protest,’ ‘love.’

    Another thing is to pick a word you fully understand and which is known to you. Look for a term which is understandable, and you feel like you have a lot to say about the word. This will make writing a definition essay much easier and faster.

    It sometimes happens that one word may have a different meaning for people. Humans have different concepts in their minds whenever they hear the word. Choose such a term, so that the research and writing were interesting and fruitful. You may include in your essay both your personal and people’s understandings. For example, ask others what comes to their minds when they hear the word ‘suffer.’

    How To Write an Effective Definition

    In case you have chosen a complex word, which is formed of several parts, separate them and define each part. Let’s take the word ‘ungentlemanly.’ The separation here looks like as following: ‘un-,’ ‘-gentle -man-,’ ‘-ly.’ Write down a thorough description and explanation of each element.

    If you’ve chosen a simple word, you may show how it changes its meaning when combined with an adjective. For example, the phrase ‘first love’ might be defined as a whole concept, or each component separately.

    Use relevant sources

    Find a dictionary definition of the word. There you may also notice a word class to which the term belongs. Moreover, there are usually synonyms which have the same or close meaning of the term.

    The usage of the additional source can be of great help. Look up in the encyclopedias. Trace back the history and origins of the word you elaborate on. There are several encyclopedias on the Internet or make use of printed ones.

    Another way to define the word is to use some additional sources. Articles, YouTube videos, and online sites will help you to fill out your research. You may google an image titled write a definition essay and learn the information through images.

    Investigate subtle meanings

    Talk to your family, friends, colleagues or mates about the term. Ask them how do they understand the notion and what pops into their minds when they hear it. You may use the following questions for the survey:

    • What is the first thought that strikes you when you heard the word?
    • How often do you use this notion?
    • Can you mention the dictionary meaning of the word?

    By the way, do not forget to note the results of the survey. You can make the comparison of the opinions. Express your own definition of the term. Write down how you understand the word. Tell how the concept works in different parts of the world.

    Body Paragraphs

    The main body is the most important constituent of the definition essay. It usually consists of 3 paragraphs. It is important that each body paragraph includes the information about the term from different aspects of view.

    As for the first one, it would be better if you dwell upon the history and etymology of the term. Tell about the origins and every stage of the word development. You may turn to words that derive from your term and give some examples.

    In the second body paragraph, you should take the aspect further. Put wise of a dictionary definition and tell about the role of the word in a sentence and its ways of usage when it comes to speaking. You may choose the word ‘work,’ for instance. It may function both as a noun and as a verb. As a result, you will get different dictionary definitions. In other words, the second paragraph is more focused on denotative meaning.

    The third one usually contains more information than the previous ones. It is more about your personal interpretation of the word. Combine both your associations when you heard the word and facts based on research. Try to explain the word as much as possible. Give any examples you wish.  It is always interesting to read when the writers are original in their statements and not afraid to sound funny.

    Creating an Essay Draft

    A typical definition essay is made up of 5 elements. These are an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It is necessary to mention your statement in the introduction and conclusion of the writing.

    Start writing the definition essay by introducing the term you are going to elaborate on. Give a standard definition of the word and do not forget to single out the source of it.

    Then refer to the main body. Here you should stick to all those rules mentioned above in the section Body Paragraphs. The existing facts and references should support all your explanations and statements. As an option, you can use quotations of those people interviewed during the survey.

    And finally, you sum up everything. Paraphrase a standard definition of the word and make your statement one more time. Be accurate in order not to perplex the reader. It is of vital importance not to express new thoughts and ideas in the last section of the essay.

    Structure of definition essay

    As you have understood from the information mentioned above, you begin the essay with the introductory part. By starting it with the dictionary definition, you give a base level of information so that the reader has an idea what would be next.

    The next thing is that you separate each side of view when giving the definition. Every aspect of the word should be clearly described. There are a lot of ways to define the term. Choose one that provides clear information and does not draw a red-herring.

    The conclusion is the last point left. If you don’t know how to make it appropriate, sum up everything said in body paragraphs making for each one sentence. Be attentive so that in conclusion there are no contradictions to everything mentioned above.

    Polishing the Essay

    As soon as you have finished writing and you feel like the essay is full and complete, read it one more time aloud. Reread the paper, so that you can decide whether it is easily perceptible. Check if there are no grammar or spelling mistakes.

    The next step in polishing is a revision. Get rid of all unnecessary and unclear words or sentences. That may evoke uncertain thoughts. Do not forget about references and quotes. It sometimes occurs that there is a word limit. Make sure that you have not crossed it.

    And finally, receive feedback. Show your essay draft to your friends, so that you better understand what should be corrected. Be open to criticism, if there are any. These tips will help you prepare a relevant article about various notions.



    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    How to Write a Definition Essay – Ideas, Examples, Structure. (2018, Jul 11). Retrieved from

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