Useful Tips on Writing a Definition Essay

When you begin to compose your definition paper you should clearly understand what it is. In such an essay, your main task is to give a definition to a certain term and to explain it to the reader. People don’t understand properly many of the terms that are given in topics for these academic papers and that is why it is important to give a correct interpretation of a term in the work. To explain the word well so that it became clear to the reader is your primary task.

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What Does the Term ‘Definition Essay’ Mean?

Academic papers have different purposes. If we speak about a definition, the exact meaning of the word is meant and its aim is to strengthen the perception of a notion of an object. To better explain the meaning of the word you can use examples and point out some arguments in your paper. To be particular when you define the term is important. Comparing your explanation to other explanations of the same word, use different words when you describe the meaning, your content should be unique. You should clearly understand the meaning of the word before you start to compose your paper. Some terms are hard to understand and if you don’t understand them correctly, you may distract yourself from your topic. To be sure in your definition is necessary because defining terms is not guessing, to persuade the reader you have to show facts. You will have to stick to the following tips to write a tremendous paper:

  • Follow the grammar rules. Only in this way, it’s possible to clearly explain what you mean, writing well and concisely. When you make spelling errors and your writing is grammatically incorrect, your writing loses its preciseness. 
  • You should be convincing; you should convince your reader in the correct meaning of the word. If the reader doesn’t understand what you explain, that means you failed your task. Explaining terms you have to gradually define the meaning of the term.
  • Don’t use a lot of terminology in your paper. To inform the reader about the exact meaning of the word is the main purpose of your work. In many cases, topics include opposite terms and your task is to explain them concisely yet in plain language. When you use a lot of vocabulary in your writing paper, you make the understanding more difficult and that makes more difficult for understanding the meaning of the term, thus failing the aim of the paper. Your main aim is to explain the work as well as possible, so you should use less complicated vocabulary. 
  • You should point out the term you explain in your essay so that your reader didn’t lose track of your examples. After you have explained the word, give some examples, keep your reader involved so that he/she didn’t distract from the topic.

What are the Main Types of Definitions?

If you wrote papers where you had to precisely describe the meaning of the word, you should know that there are different types of definitions. To explain a word using some more different words is called to define it. To match one of the standard formats, your essay should be classified into one of many groups.

All definitions are subdivided into extensional and intentional: 

1. The definition that classifies objects having a definite trait is called an intentional one. “Birds have feathers and two wings” – this is its illustration. One can understand that a living object that has feathers and two wings can be classified into birds. An intentional definition denotes an object belonging to a group of objects that have a trait in common. It is in its turn is subdivided into two smaller groups:

  • The genus. Terms may be of the same definition and still vary. These words belong to one genus, they say.
  • The differential. More general definitions belong to this group of words. Mammals, for example.

2. A list that defines all the members of a family, for example, is called extensional definitions. This group differs from intentional definitions as it focuses mainly on a more general understanding of terms. Extensional definitions are subdivided into two subgroups: 

  • The type that explains the meaning of the term by illustrations is known as an ostensive definition. For example, when we hear the words “the Evil one”, through connotation it is clear that the devil is spoken about. 
  • When several objects completely coincide in one term that type of definition is called enumerative. 

To know various types of definitions is important because when you get your assignment with the topic of your writing work, you will choose the correct classification for it and write adhering to the recommendations.

The assignment to write academic papers is a frequent one during your study throughout high school college. You can get our guide with tips on how to write an amazing writing work here.

How You Should Start Your Definition Paper?

The most important part of every paper is, probably, the beginning, it’s the first thing from which the reader gets his/her impressions about your essay. If the beginning of your writing paper is not very impressive, your reader sooner or later will lose curiosity about it. The beginning of your paper should be catchy for the reader. Your very first paragraph of the essay should be intriguing enough for the reader to be worth continuing.

When you write a definition essay, try to stick to the following steps:

  • Choose only words that are well-known to you. To describe the meaning use words that are easy to understand so your explanation of the term is easy for comprehension.
  • Think of a concept or an idea before you start writing your paper that will determine the scope of words you will use.
  • To learn how to write a definition correctly is a must and there are some proven methods to write precise descriptions of terms in your essay:

a. Defining the term by structure. You can give a description of your term based on knowing its structure so that you could comment on its organization.

b. Defining the term by analysis. In this case, in your essay, you compare variations and resemblances of the words with their families. When you analyze a phrase, you can divide it into separate words and reveal the meaning of every term.

c. Defining the term by function. If your task is to explain and define the term by function, you should make it clear to the reader the way it works.

d. Defining the term by negation. In such a case, you should underline what the term doesn’t mean, so the main thing here is to define the term by applying elimination. If you want to write professionally, negation will be one of your literary devices. 

The use of examples in your essay is important. Appealing to the mind of the reader using proof and appropriate illustrations you reinforce the exactness of the explanation of the work. If you use examples that are most understandable to the reader it will be effective. Your illustrations should match the topic of your writing paper, in this way, they will back up the main purpose of your academic paper. If you know how to illustrate your essay with examples correctly, it will make your writing concise and up to the point.

The facts you use to back up your reasoning should be understandable to the reader. Opinions are important, but to strongly support your point of view use facts. In a definition essay, you should mostly rely on facts.

It’s important to understand the reader. Every writer should be able to explain the main idea of his/her paper in words that will be clear to the reader. Before you start writing, you should define your target audience and choose writing categories that will appeal to that group. For example, if your target audience is children you will write in a simple easy to comprehend language, avoiding verbose language expressions. 

When you give an explanation of the word, for better understanding you should classify it, i.e. define the part of speech the word belongs to.

How to Write an Outline for a Definition Essay

An extended essay traditionally consists of three main parts like any other academic essay (the introduction, the body, the conclusion).

The Introduction

In this part of the essay, you explain the particular meaning of the word under the question. It is logically correct if at first, you give a more general explanation of the word and then later in the body you will give its precise meaning. At the end of the Introduction, you write your thesis statement, where you will outline the contents of the body and gives an overview of what the reader should expect.

The Body

The most voluminous and the most informative part of your essay that you should pay more attention to is the body. It consists of several paragraphs and each paragraph expresses one idea. If you analyze a term, it may have several meanings and each paragraph will contain the analysis of that meaning. The topic sentence opens the paragraph, then you give an overview of the meaning of the term. It’s a good idea to reinforce your definition of the word by using vivid examples.

The Conclusion

The most substantial part of your academic paper is the conclusion. This part summarizes the main ideas of the body. Your primary task is to prove that the definition is important, to show it by using the examples. If it’s possible, you should write how that definition influences you or other people, write your own life experience, if you have any, connected with the term, include practical knowledge.

Choosing a Topic for Your Definition Essay

Your topic may become the success of your academic paper. You should choose a topic to be able to analyze, to make conclusions, to illustrate it. Some topics may be too narrow. Choosing a topic for your essay try to consider the following:

  • It’s preferable to choose a word that has an abstract and more general meaning. If the meaning of the word is only directing you probably won’t manage to give a lot of examples to it in your essay. You’d better choose a topic that will give you the possibility to write about several meanings of the same word.
  • The term should be arguable to provide expressing different views in your essay. If the word is arguable, it will give place for discussion, for comparison between different terms showing their similarity and/or differences.
  • Choose a word that you know well. The topic with the word that you are well familiar with will allow you to give a detailed explanation of it and illustrate the definition by appropriate examples. If you don’t know the word well enough, you will not write a persuasive essay. 
  • Before you begin to write your paper you should do research on the origin of the word and on the way it has been formed. That will allow you to show the reader your competence and give some interesting additional information on the subject.

To write essays on different topics is useful for you as a writer because it develops your writing expertise and skills. Possible topics may include such as “My Family”, “My Favorite Film”, “My Granny and Me”. To write an excellent essay you need to choose your topic wisely. 

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