Definition Essay: Everything You Need to Know to Create a Winning Paper


Definition Essay: Everything You Need to Know to Create a Winning Paper

Students’ life is full of joy, adventures, and new impressions. On the other hand, it means laborious work through years of studying. One important part of studying is academic writing. Western educational tradition includes a big number of various assignments and texts. One of them is called a definition essay. While it is an essay, it stands apart from other kinds of this paper type. To write it well, an author should learn its main features and approaches of writing. Continue reading, and you’ll find out what to pay attention to, examples and ideas for picking a great topic.

Meaning of a Definition Paper

The main difference between this essay and a dictionary article is composition. In an essay, you need to disclose a term with your own words and within your knowledge. The main concept is to define a word, give sufficient information and examples and sound your attitude to a subject or happening. While a dictionary gives only a denotational meaning of a term, an essay should reflect or combine these aspects:

  • Denotation – it is a literal definition of a term like it is given in books or dictionaries
  • Connotation – it is an illustration of a meaning implied by a term or a subject
  • Enumeration – it is a list of possible definitions that describe a term or a subject from different points of view
  • Analogy – definition of a term or a subject by comparing it with something related
  • Negation – Definition of a term or a subject by giving an opposing meaning
  • Definition essays cover a big number of writing approaches. Depending on a subject, science, and topic it can vary in narration, composition, structure, elements of an author’s personal attitude, word limit, language style, etc. In general, we can define a definition essay as a lowly specialized text containing full information about a separate subject, with examples and possible author’s attitude explained.

Algorithm of Writing

Every essay should begin with a thesis statement. Pick a word you would like to explain. Try to pick a complex term that can give birth to a big essay. Agree, it is easier to write 1000 words about love than about blockchain technologies. Try to avoid concrete objects and choose something that has several definitions. Write down all associations appeared in your head connected with this word. Group the associations into several lists. Entitle each list and gather a thesis statement using the titles.

The next step is working with literature resources. Try to find as many dictionaries as you can and find a chosen word there. Write down all differences in definitions. Do not forget to mention the synonyms, antonyms, and origins of a word. Origins should be looked for in various encyclopedias. Try to understand how the word’s meaning and destination have been changed through the years. Sometimes it is a good approach to find words with the same root in other related languages (Scandinavian, German, Danish for the English language). Watch if a meaning has changed during adoption.

Do not hesitate to look for the other sources that define and discuss a word. There are a lot of videos available on the Internet, topical blogs and articles related to a chosen topic. Interview your relatives and friends to find out their opinion concerning a term or a happening. The main idea of this essay is giving sufficient information. A good essay gives right enough information for readers to understand what an author means. It is aimed to make concepts simple for comprehension and leave no unanswered questions. Neither a reader nor your tutor will be happy with an unfinished or poor essay. Here is the main trick of writing is hidden – to give all important information and squeeze it into a strict word limit.

Outline and Structure

Make a simple plan of your future essay. Keep in mind that you have to:

  • Give all possible definitions
  • Discuss them
  • Give auxiliary information (examples, explanations, etc.)
  • Create your own definition of a concept
  • Sound your attitude (if needed)

As a rule, this essay type does not differ from others in structure. It should have three standard parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is an example of a possible outline and the essential parts of a definition text. If you want, you can find out how to write your own outline on the Web. Tip: it is a good idea to start your essay with a quote sounded by a remarkable person related to the topic or with a fascinating story for real life that will give birth to some intrigue.

Introduction – give a general definition of a subject or a term. Present your essay – explain why you would like to uncover a current topic with a definition and why it is useful to read the essay. The part should take no more than 2 paragraphs or 10% of the whole essay.

Body – the main part of an essay. Here you continue giving various definitions of a concept, choose its specific traits that will help you to conclude an essay, provide readers with examples, sound meanings of famous or valuable people, place controversial or wrong definitions, with an explanation of your choice. etc. This is the biggest part that must take about 80% of the space.

Conclusion – when a term is fully defined, it is time to sound your personal opinion and provide a reader with final ideas about a term. Try to answer these questions: “did your essay change understanding of a topic?”, “should a reader modify his/her attitude after reading your definition?”, “should they try to look for more information about a topic?”. Devote the last 10% of the space for this part. Try to place it within one paragraph.

Choose Topics for a Definition Paper

A definition essay can be given as an assignment both in a school, college or university. It does not depend on the class or major. It feels well both within science and humanities. It can be a part of an admission test or a final academic paper of a year. A wide diversity of methods of application means many opportunities for an author at the same time. If you are not given a topic, and a tutor entrusts you defining your topic, try to choose something related both to your audience and your subject. Is it a science essay?

Prepare an essay related to your future lab experiment. It will be both interesting and useful for a group. Do you need a sociology essay? Uncover an aspect of a student’s life with your essay. In other words, try to be creative and never try to discover the continents again if it is not needed. Seek for a simple path – you do not have much time for an assignment.

30 Definition Paper Topics

Do you still suffer from writer’s block? We have picked some examples of essay topics to make it easier for you. Do not hesitate to use them directly or to borrow some ideas for own topic.

  1. Definition of Love for Modern People
  2. War and Its Meanings in Different Cultures
  3. Streetwise – Definition of a New Era Skill
  4. Family – How to Understand the Full Meaning of This Word?
  5. A Good Start Is a Job Half Done – Definition and Meaning of a Proverb
  6. Definitions of a Universal Order in Various Religions
  7. Life Experience – The Full Meaning with Examples
  8. How Popular People Understand Society
  9. Definition and Role of Global Warming for Our Planet
  10. Slavery – How to Understand People Put into Cages?
  11. What is Inspiration and How to Find It?
  12. American History – Different Points of View
  13. Important Knowledge About Harassment and Its Definition in Various Spheres of Life
  14. What to Include into Our Understanding of Human Rights?
  15. Terms Related to Marine Legal Affairs
  16. Basic Information About Atomic Energy
  17. Key Definition of Education Process in Great Britain
  18. Definition of Domestic Violence and How It Modifies Public Attitude
  19. My Point of View Towards Elderly People And A Definition
  20. Teenagers – Definition, Attitude, and Ways of Comprehension
  21. Cancer Essay – Definition, and Treatment in Modern Medicine
  22. Financial Support for Students – Definition and Variations
  23. How to Get Clear Understanding of Immigration Processes in the USA?
  24. Great Internet Wall of China – Definition, History, and Impact
  25. Essay About Work for Students – Acceptable Definition and Understanding
  26. How to Create a Strong Image of a Diligent Person?
  27. Pain – Definition, and Ability to Feel it by Different Animals
  28. Persian Gulf War – Facts and Consequences
  29. Analysis and Understanding of Bullying in High Schools
  30. An Essay With My Ideas About Tolerance
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