Definition Essay Writing Tutorial: How To Ace Your Paper


The definition essay is a kind of writing assignment that explains using simple and clear English what a term means. Some terms are easy to define because they have what one would call concrete meanings, such as book, tree, or bike. But other terms like honor, honesty or love are abstract and require a more to explain depending on a personal opinion or point of view.

There are three steps to writing an effective definition of any term:

  1. You need to tell your reader what term is being defined.
  2. You need to clearly present basic information.
  3. You need to use anecdotes, facts, and examples that your reader will understand.

This is a keys step in acing your definition paper. The first thing you need to do is really understand the term before you attempt to define it for your readers. You should consult a dictionary, but don’t just copy what is written inside.

Try explaining the term in your own words briefly. It’s a good idea to limit your term before you attempt to write a definition for it. For example, you could write pages and pages on the term “honor”; so to limit the term, you would write about “military honor” or “familial honor”. In this way you take an abstract concept and turn it into something with more clearly defined boundaries.

The thesis statement for this paper should provide a brief and basic description of the term you will be focusing on. The rest of the paper will go more in-depth.

Try to define by either function, structure or by analysis. In the case of function, you simply explain how something works or what something does. In the case of structure, you want to explain how something is put together or how something is organized. In the case of analysis, you want to compare the term to other things within its class or order and then illustrate what the differences are. The differences are the characteristics that make your chosen term stand apart from other similar terms.

Using understandable examples, facts and anecdotes will expand on your explanation. Explore different options and remember that you want to stick with uncomplicated descriptive language in order to keep your reader from getting confused.



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