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How to Write a Definition Essay

What is a Definition Essay? Right as it says on the label, a definition essay has the goal of presenting a clear and accurate definition of a subject at hand. This discussion on the topic is also supported by arguments and examples that make it easier for a reader to follow.


So, What is a Definition Essay?

While you might be writing about what your topic is or what it means, this shouldn’t just be a cue to take out your encyclopedia and copy whatever is within? It’s an opportunity to create a good look at your topics list with different lenses, but still trying to explain the many moving parts of your subject.

what is definition essay

Whether you are working on an IB extended essay or a simple assignment for your elective, you’ll need the right tools. With the right amount of skill, patience, and a good editor’s eye, your definition essay could be an eye-opening experience for someone else.

Related: How to Write an Essay

Definition Essay Outline

Getting together one such assignment is not an easy task. It requires a lot of research and a production of a piece that can efficiently summarize the important meaning of any subject. There are a lot of ways to do this, but it’s really about honing your style that will make you an effective description writer.

  1. Introduction. An essay could always go straight to point and give a textbook or dictionary version of the topic at hand right at the introduction, but that’s not necessarily the most ethical or appropriate way to give a subject any justice. The introduction is also a good time to explain any terms that you might be using extensively in your essay. That way, your reader will have a smooth expectation and experience upon reading your work.
  2. Body. It helps to think of your argument in different ways that will help you to define it. You can think of the theme in many different perspectives, and you will pick one that is promising. You can break down these ideas into separate arguments that will make up the main idea for your body. As long as they are well-supported arguments, your reader can potentially become hooked onto your version of the description.
  3. Conclusion. After you have made your arguments, it will be helpful to give a run-through of what has been discussed thus far, without writing everything down you previously did word for word. The conclusion is critical because it creates a failsafe where a good summary of the discussion can take place.

Common Topics List

  • Concrete definition essay. Are you writing about a person? A place? A thing? An event? Then this is a pretty good and straightforward writing assignment for you. There are lots of things to write about concrete topics. Research is easy, and there are a lot of known facts in history, science, and the like.
  • Abstract definition essay. As the famous earworm song goes, “What is Love?” and proceeds with catchy beats, the listener will realize that the question is never directly answered. This essay is your chance to also inject your learning about the subject from your practical point of view. You can research a lot, but since it’s an abstract concept, the answer expected of you should say more of your analysis than what is written in a couple of books. A lot of insight can be gathered through a few readings and your brainpower.

Related: How to Choose Essay Topics

Tips and Advices

Now that you have a good issue and have done some research that will make your position about the subject clear, your next task is to choose a way to describe your subject matter. There are many ways to deal with the matter at hand, but your goal is to make it a decisive and precise read. You should imagine if the reader had no other sources aside from your essay, they will gain all they know from your piece. At the end of reading your work they should be able to have a good understanding that they will be able to explain on their own.

how to define in your essay

  • Define according to History. You can describe the subject from its roots and origins. Use historical events to support your arguments. Remember that there are always two sides to every story, this may help you create a wonderfully fleshed out piece.
  • Define according to use. Sometimes the most critical thing to say about a topic is how important it is in our daily life. To grasp what something means, we can take a look at how it is present in our life every day. You can describe how it works and its impact.
  • Define according to comparison. Another easy way to describe something is to compare them or it to peers. You can highlight what sets your subject apart, and this method can easily pinpoint what exactly you are attempting to describe. This is helpful if your readers are familiar with the proposition on high-level terms but can’t distinguish it fully.
  • Define according to organization. Maybe the theme can be deconstructed by its parts. To aid with your attempt to describe, you can make an outline of the organization of your case. Going through its sections and functions one-by-one is helpful because this description encompasses function and comparison as well.
  • Define according to experts. Your work on friendship is not the first of its kind, so you should learn how to make sure you didn’t just copy your assignment from someone else. Looking at the view of proclaimed experts and the like will also gain you valuable insights that you can prove or disprove within your work. Build up with various authors, or break them down – as long as your piece uses logic.

Definition Essay Examples

Need some more help in understanding what a good piece would be like? Look no further from these examples and see if you will improve as a writer and essayist with this exercise.

Example 1. Success Definition Essay

Getting this topic recalls beautiful rags to riches stories that will flesh out the experience of success. You can use great anecdotes or even movie and plot device that devote to the matter to an extent. Do you know any successful people? How do people explain success? When can you say you have achieved success? These are the kinds of qualitative questions that are interesting to delve into because of the theme.

Example 2. Beauty Definition Essay

There is a famous proverb that goes: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – or is it, truly? Explore this concept of beauty, beyond the vanity desk and the make-up. What one person can illustrate as beautiful may be the total opposite for another one. Try to find a definition of beauty that you can get behind and support with your reputable facts.

Related: Essay Samples


A definition essay is a tricky but fun way to flex your writing muscles. This is because so many skills are required of you in the creation of this single paper. The best way craft these kinds of work is to simply practice and remember to write with the reader in mind.

practicing in definition essay writing

If your essay can enlighten one reader about your topic, then that is already a success indicator that will take you far on your journey as a writer. After one hero definition essay, which is a very interesting matter, you can complete any investigative or extended essay that comes your way!

Check out this helpful video on writing this type of paper we’ve found on the web

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