What Is a Definition Essay

A definition essay is required when a student comes across new words or phrases. Naturally, professors want to make sure students fully understand all the words they use. Besides, a definition essay is a good opportunity to check student’s ability to write a well-structured essay, as well as specific writing and research skills.

General Guidelines

There is a difference between simply finding the explanation of an unknown word for getting the essence and explaining it to others. In the latter, what does matter, though, are the examples you use in your paper to make sure the reader clearly comprehends the new term.

One of the peculiarities of a definition essay is that it should be both personal and formal. At the same time, you should strive to make your paper as clear and detailed as possible. The more examples you use to define your word or phrase, the better it is. In this, adverbs and adjectives will be of great help since they provide a qualitative description of a term. Also, do not be afraid to turn to historical roots of the term – they can make your explanation more interesting and solid. Furthermore, some words may seem easy to explain at first, but in reality, they turn out to be highly sophisticated, so be prepared that you may need the whole paper to properly explain just one word. Here, it will be even trickier if you are tasked with defining more than one complicated word in your paper. You will need to use all your skills to make your essay both succinct, clear, and to the point.

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Choosing the Word to Explain

When choosing the word for your definition essay, try to pick the one that has more than just one meaning. Simple words are neither interesting to write nor read about. If you opt for a complex word, you will be excited to properly define it, and this is the secret of writing a good paper.

Moreover, you may want to make your paper somewhat debatable or philosophical in nature. This will a) ensure that you have much to write about and b) definitely arouse your readers’ interest in what you have to say in your conclusion. Examples of such papers may be “Is beauty an abstract notion?”

Structure of the Paper

The structure of the definition essay is similar to that of most papers. Normally, you will need an introductory paragraph, a couple of body paragraphs, conclusion, and references. There is no need to make your reference list extended since it is preferable that you explain the term in your own words to show your own understanding of it. A few entries from an encyclopedia or dictionary will be enough.

The word count of your definition essay depends on the number of terms being explained and the level of their sophistication. However, try not to limit the flow of your ideas. This is what will make your definition essay perfect.

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