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How to Write a Definition Essay

A definition essay is a clear description of the term, supported by facts, examples, and arguments. The goal of the definition essay is to define a specific term, concept, or idea. Such an essay should not be limited to a dictionary meaning — it should contain an extended definition. The main idea here is that you expand the knowledge of the readers and give them new information about the word that is being described. You need to focus on providing your readers with the information they can’t find in a regular dictionary. 

Definition Essay Structure

Sticking to a precise framework is very vital while writing a definition paper. When it comes to presenting your thoughts in the sequence that makes the most sense to the reader, proper essay structure is really beneficial. A definition essay’s framework is typically quite similar to the structure of other creative projects, such as a synthesis essay, explanation essay, and other sorts of essays.

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Definition Essay Outline

The first thing that springs to mind when discussing a definition essay framework is a definition essay outline. A definition paper outline is a blueprint for your definition paper. Its major purpose is to organize the essential topics into paragraphs so that you can compose the essay more easily. Making an outline is not as tough as it may appear at first. It has the same components as any other academic paper, which are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Thesis Statement
  3. Body Paragraphs
  4. Conclusion

How to Start a Definition Essay

The introduction to the definition paper comes first. Keep in mind that the start of your essay should incorporate numerous important components. To begin, you should provide a concise description of the phrase you have chosen to explain. The simplest approach to do so is to look up an explanation of the word or topic in a dictionary or on the internet (make sure to use only credible sources).

You might be wondering what to do if the phrase you’ve picked has many meanings. In this scenario, experts from various writing services advise choosing the definition you like most and adding your particular perspective on the phrase you’re going to describe. Try to come up with your own interpretation.

Another good option is to mention something interesting right at the start of the essay. Allow your imagination to go wild — it might be a strange fact, renowned phrase, alarming statistics, a brief narrative, or even a true case from your life related to the theme.

The introduction should be concise yet informative. It should end with a clear thesis statement that conveys to your audience what the essay will cover.

Thesis Statement

A definition essay lacks a traditional thesis statement since the author is not required to prove anything. If you want to produce an excellent definition paper, just add a major claim of your work to the last line of the introductory section. Simply describe the phrase in your own words in your thesis statement.


The body of the definition essay helps you think about the essay argument in new ways and examine the word from a new perspective. What’s fantastic about this type of essay is that you may approach the topic from multiple angles. In the end, you’ll probably choose the one that’s easiest to grasp.

Your definition essay can include two, three, or more body paragraphs, depending on the difficulty of the chosen phrase and your writing abilities. Give as much information about the chosen term as you can. If it is essential for a better understanding of the issue, you can supply a few definitions of the word.

When writing on a definition essay, it is also strongly encouraged to conduct extensive research and have a thorough grasp of the subject. Concentrate on informing your audience about all of the contextual connotations of the phrase. Try to learn everything you can about the term. Even though definition papers must be fact-based, providing your personal perspective on the issue is encouraged. We recommend going through a variety of materials, such as books, dictionaries, academic publications, educational websites, and so on. The essential aim here is to have a thorough comprehension of the issue before beginning to write your paper.

Writers from our custom essay writing service prepared some useful tips you may follow when writing the body of your essay:

  • A new idea is always a new paragraph
  • If the term that is being defined has several meanings, you better explain them all
  • Use examples from your life
  • Provide various points of view to support the core information


A proper conclusion is required for a definition essay. As previously stated, the primary purpose of your work is to give your readers a comprehensive description of the selected phrase. Your conclusion should summarize the material presented throughout the essay.

You may explain how the term you picked affected your life. Readers enjoy learning interesting information about other people’s lives and appreciate the genuine tone. In your conclusion, you may also restate the thesis point and make a broader comment about the word.

Definition Essay Topics & Ideas

One of the most difficult aspects of writing a definition essay is deciding on a topic. A fantastic essay topic will pique your reader’s interest and keep them reading until the finish. Whatever topic you choose, you should be interested in it and knowledgeable about it. It would be fantastic if someone in your circle of friends had a comparable experience in the issue you are about to define.

The good news is that there are many terms to describe today. Although certain words are self-explanatory, there are a plethora of abstract and scientific terminology that might become a source of contention. Some people may find it challenging to express ideas like love, happiness, trust, and empathy. Check out some helpful hints for selecting an appropriate topic for your definition essay:

  • Try not to use general words that don’t have hidden meanings
  • Make sure your essay is based on facts
  • Add a list of references 
  • Choose topics that are familiar to you

When writing a definition essay, students typically pick between two sorts of terms: concrete and 

abstract definitions. Let us examine each of the following:

Concrete concepts – Describe tangible words like persons, places, objects, events, and so on. Concrete terms are considerably simpler for some pupils to describe than abstract ones. There are several specific topics to write about, covering practically every aspect of our daily lives. Furthermore, when choosing to define concrete concepts, research becomes much easier because there are many known facts in history, science, and so on. Concrete notions include the following: cat, table, pen, phone, painting, tree, cake, cup, and so on.

Abstract concepts –refers to an idea or notion that does not exist in the physical world and cannot be felt. Students who want to describe an abstract topic must be willing to employ their creativity and brainpower. Generally, explaining abstract nouns is more difficult than describing conventional concrete nouns. On the other hand, discussing something abstract is quite exciting! Consider how enjoyable it would be to describe something you cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. Liberty, love, rage, freedom, generosity, charity, democracy, and other abstract words are examples.

Tips on How to Write a Definition Essay

After you’ve decided on a phrase to describe and done some study on it, the following stage is to decide how to define your subject. Despite the fact that there are several methods to define the chosen phrase, your aim is to consider how to express it in a definite and accurate manner. Make use of your vocabulary and imagination. Consider the reader who has no other sources save your definition paper. Your article is all he or she needs to learn about the term. After reading your article, readers should have a clear comprehension and certainty that they now comprehend what you are talking about and can define the term with their own words.

Top 3 Ways to Describe the Term

  1. Defining a term according to historical facts. One of the ways in which you can describe the chosen word is by using historical facts and events in order to support your point of view. Try to describe the subject from its roots and origin. 
  1. Defining a term according to its use. Another great way to describe the subject matter is to explain why it’s important in our daily lives. As it often happens, sometimes describing how the thing works and impacts our lives is enough to understand its meaning. 
  1. Defining a term based on a comparison. You can also describe something by comparing it with the same class of words. For instance, you can emphasize what sets the subject apart, how it stands out, and what makes it special. Compare it with other words of the same class and point out differences. This distinction often clarifies the definition.

More ideas to consider when writing a definition essay:

  • When defining a term, try not to blatantly copy what has been written in other dictionaries. Focus on providing readers with your interpretation of what is being discussed. 
  • Select terms or concepts you understand or the ones that have had an impact on you personally. Do not try to define the term that is hard for you to understand. By doing so, you will only confuse your readers and fool yourself. Think of a definition that would be uniquely yours. Don’t be afraid to give non-standard explanations — that approach will give you good results.
  • An effective way to describe a term is by explaining its functions and structure. You can even try to define a term by specifying what it does not mean. 
  • If the chosen term has a broad meaning, try to narrow it. For example, you may need to write many pages to define the term ‘love’ adequately, but if you limit your topic to ‘self-love,’ it will be much easier for you to craft your definition paper.
  • Another thing worth considering when writing an essay is proofreading. The best thing about the proofreading stage is that it allows you to eliminate numerous mistakes and take a fresh look at your writing. If you can, show your essay to your parents or a friend. Maybe they will notice any grammar or lexical mistakes you didn’t see. We are all human beings, and nobody is perfect. Creating a list of references and running your essay through plagiarism detection software are also recommended. When drafting a list of references, you can adhere to the Chicago Citation Style, MLA, or APA Citation Styles.


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