How To Write A Definition Essay

A definition essay is an essay that will be defining a term or subject. With a definition essay, the definition that is being completed may be a direct term or subject or it may be something a little more abstract. Since definition essays may have a broad topic, how the essay is written is completely up to the writer. When writing a definition essay, make sure to:

  • Clearly understand the term you are defining. Make sure to thoroughly research the term so that it can clearly be defined and understood by the reader and keep in mind not to use dictionary definitions when writing a definition essay. Make sure to use your own words and researched information.
  • Ensure that the information is easy to understand and that the details are clear and concise so it can easily be comprehended.
  • Make sure the essay has your own personality as well. There can be anecdotes added and personal information too.

The a term can be defined in a few different ways, there are different methods that can be used, depending on the term that is being defined and how you want to go about creating the definition essay. These methods include an:

  • Analysis which be used to separate the term into different parts and then describe each part separately. This works for terms that can easily be broken down into different sections, such as love or romance.
  • Comparison works well when the term would be more easily understood by comparing it to it’s opposite.
  • Details give the reader the specifics about the term. The attributes, physical and internal both, background information or thoughts on the term.
  • Negation can be used to show what the term is not. This can be useful with terms that can be more easily understood, by showing what it is not first.
  • Examples and Anecdotes are useful tools when having to define an abstract term, such as justice or truth.
  • Origins and Causes covers the background of the term and how it came about and from where.
  • Results, Causes and Effects can be used on terms that need to cover what the term does to people or civilizations for instance.

A basic outline to use for a definition essay, is as follows:

  • The Introduction
    • This should narrow down the term that will be defined and give the basic information about it as well.
  • The Body
    • Additional basic information about the topic in the first paragraph of the body.
    • The following paragraphs should give examples and information about the term, depending on which method was chosen to write the essay with.
    • There should be the definition with contrasting ideas and additional information.
  • The Conclusion
    • The conclusion should restate the term that is being defined again, but not in the same way as the introduction paragraph.
    • Key points should be restated as well.
    • The conclusion should tie the entire essay together.

8 Responses to How To Write A Definition Essay

  1. Pingback: Definition essays

  2. pauline

    Thanks so much for breaking this all down for me. I’m going start practising using this method. Thanks for the great definition essay writing tips!

  3. Kevin

    I’ve been reading your blog and I would love to say thanks for all your essay writing tips! They are very helpful and I’ve even improved my grades!

    • terry

      well done kevin on improving your grades! i’ve just come onto this site to hopefully improve my college essay grades as well… hopefully i can do as well as you!

  4. Evan

    Can definition essays be used in a college admission essay? Or it just too straight forward/boring? Do you know if there are any pre-requisites? I want to study in America but am currently living in the UK so I’m not sure about these things.

    • Frances

      I’m not from the US either so I’m not sure how a college admission essay works but I would suppose that you have a bunch of topics or something for them to come up with so they can judge everyone equally based on their skills?

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