In a definition essay, the writer is required to explain the meaning of something by providing a detailed description and supporting the definition with facts or clear examples.
Explanations are required especially if a term is special, disputed, abstract or does not bear a common meaning. The writer’s analysis has to go beyond the dictionary meaning and should try to explain the reasons of the given definition in the essay. Additionally, the author could give the direct definition of the term which will limit the definition essay to a mere clarification of the term. A writer is also allowed to define the term with the help of a related story, and the reader will deduce the meaning of that term.
Definition essays vary in length based on the complexity of the term being defined. Bearing in mind that it is an essay, you cannot choose a word that can only be described in a few words. It has to be a difficult term that has great origin and background in history, and it should be a word that people can easily relate to in various ways.
For instance, the word friendship. It is close to impossible to describe this concept in a sentence or several sentences. Therefore, you can create a whole essay about friendship in an attempt to give the word an accurate universal meaning. Some terms will require intensive research and analysis to be able to construct an accurate representation of the meaning.
Just like other essays structures, this paper contains an introduction, body, and conclusion sections. The introductory part should begin with the standard definition of the word from the dictionary. You could also start this essay with a contradicting interpretation of the term. In the thesis, a writer states his/her personal definition of the word.
Before you even start writing, choose a word that is multi-dimensional, meaning that the term has several interpretations, one that some people will perceive it differently from others. A writer is also encouraged to choose a juicy word and not universal terms such as hello.
The body section is where the writer will express his/her understanding of the word and support his claim using illustrative examples. The conclusion should be sound and must unite the components of the definition and explain to the reader how he/she can use the definition.
Rules to guide you write an effective definition essay
- Avoid using the words where and when while giving the definition. A common rule is to use a noun to define a noun, an adjective to define an adjective and etcetera.
- Bear in mind that a definition is not a repetition.
- Highlight the special features of the term.
- Use well-known and simple terms in your illustration and explanation.
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