How to Write a Definition Essay

Writing Your Definition Essay

What are the main features of a definition essay?

A definition essay is an essay which takes a word or a phrase and explains what it means to an audience. These can either be concrete terms such as glass or book, or more abstract terms, such as love or courage. More abstract terms are generally preferred to concrete ones, as the essay then becomes more personalized to the essay writer.

Normally, these papers follow a pattern: they tell readers what word or term is being defined, define it in clear and straightforward language, and use facts that the reader is sure to understand. Also, a definition essay normally follows the basic pattern: an introduction, a conclusion, and three to five body paragraphs. You should take care when choosing a definition, as if you can’t define it to yourself, you will be unable to define it properly in an essay. Try to fully understand the term rather than simply using the dictionary definition, as that will allow you to explain the word more easily to an audience.

It is also important to remember to place limits on a definition paper, particularly if you are working with an abstract concept. Abstract concepts need limits if this essay can have such limits. Make sure that your audience knows the limits that have been placed (if there are any).

How to start writing

A definition essay begins with defining the word or term which is under discussion, allowing the rest of the writing to proceed without problems. Make sure that you have all the research done before you begin so that you know how you are going to proceed.

Tips on how to start

  • Make sure that you have your definition of your words and terms ready.
  • If you have any particular facts or stories connected to your word, note them down so you will remember to use them.
  • Remember to set limits right at the start of the essay.

How to develop an outline

Writing an outline goes better if you keep in mind that it is not set in stone – many people find themselves feeling stuck if the layout is something they want to change later. Write an outline by noting down everything that you want to include in the essay.

How to write a thesis statement for a definition essay

The thesis statement for a definition essay should be the definition of the word or term which is being discussed. It provides the term which is being defined and also gives a good if brief explanation. Some statements also include the limits which are being placed on the essay.

How to write an introduction

Writing an introduction well is incredibly important in these types of papers since the introduction is what gives us the ground. Define the term under discussion, make sure that any relevant details are explained, and make sure your writing is coherent and clear.

How to write the body paragraphs

Each body paragraph should focus on one particular aspect of the definition which is the subject of the entire essay. The result should be that the essay as a whole defines the term which is being discussed as thoroughly as possible, and shows it from as many different angles as is necessary for understanding.

Each body paragraph should handle an aspect of the definition or one part of the anecdotes or terminology which you think will help people to better understand the word being defined. Each paragraph should, therefore, be concerned with one particular part of the overall definition, to avoid confusion. Body paragraphs should be kept clear and well-written, to avoid any unnecessary confusion.

Tips on body writing

  • Make sure each paragraph has its own topic sentence to introduce the paragraph, and its own concluding sentence to help weave it into the next paragraph.
  • Body paragraphs should follow each other in a logical progression, to make sure that people reading through them do not get confused.
  • All the paragraphs should link back to the thesis statement, and ultimately be about defining the word which was introduced in the beginning of the essay.
  • Make sure that your body paragraphs are written clearly – it is a lot easier to help people understand the definition of a term if your writing is not confusing.
  • Each body paragraph should only deal with one particular part of the definition.

How to finish a definition essay

Finishing a definition essay requires the tying up of every single piece of research in one neat bow. You should be sure to include every single piece of information which has been discussed in the whole essay, to make sure that readers understand the word totally. Finishing the paper means properly bringing everything together and concluding it with a proper last point to the definition.

Every single part of the essay should have, in some way, contributed to helping people understand the word you define in your essay. The conclusion should be the final word on that, including everything that has gone before and offering some last words to complete the learning process for everyone involved.

Tips on conclusion writing

  • The conclusion should repeat the thesis statement from the introduction so that everyone is reminded of the word which is being defined.
  • The conclusion needs to take every piece of research and every single anecdote which has been used throughout the essay as a whole when it is bringing the final conclusion together.
  • Make sure that the writing is clear and coherent – the conclusion is the final place to help people to understand the word or term under discussion, and clear writing will help with that.
  • The conclusion should contain any extra information which is felt necessary for the audience to understand the word being defined. This might be information which was mentioned in the introduction, or more rarely be completely new information.

Tips on paper revision

  • Make sure that the essay is completely free of grammar and spelling errors – if you can, try and get someone else to look over your work for you, as a fresh pair of eyes will likely pick up errors that you have missed.
  • Make sure that you really know what the word means, and how you yourself would define it properly – you can’t explain it to others without truly understanding it yourself.
  • Make sure that the essay progresses in a logical fashion, leading people from a low understanding of the word being defined, to a complete understanding of it.
  • Remember that the thesis statement should occur in both the introduction and the conclusion of the essay.
  • Everything in the essay should contribute to the main point of it all, with nothing to divert attention away from learning about the word being defined.

Definition essay sample

What Is Charisma?

Charisma is a vaguely nebulous term – we all know that people like Dwayne Johnson seem to have it in spades and that we should really have. But nobody seems able to define it as such. Charisma has two separate definitions: one is a compelling attractiveness or charm or leadership ability which inspires other people, and the other is a divinely inspired gift. While they seem different, they are in fact often seemingly connected in our own minds.

Charisma is often something which is most often connected to celebrities in this day and age when referring to their seeming ability to bring fans in to watch their movies and TV shows and travel over the world to meet them. It is something which people talk about as being the draw for many people, since they can make people want to be like them without trying, and without even meeting them in many cases.

Charisma has two separate definitions: one is a compelling attractiveness or charm or leadership ability which inspires other people, and the other is a divinely inspired gift. While they seem different, they are in fact often seemingly connected in our own minds. This is most often seen in celebrities since they are very visible in our culture and daily lives, but it can be seen in other areas of life too.

This is simply a basic sample of a definition essay – anybody actually writing such an essay will need to put a lot more work into it.

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