Essays are critical academic assignments that you’ll need to hand in at some point of your academic journey. There are different types of essays that your instructor may require. Out of these, definition essay may be one that you’re not too aware of.
What is a definition essay?
As evident from its name, a definition essay is an essay that elaborates on the definition of a term. Terms that have concrete definitions like, flower, paper or glass are not the kind of terms that you’ll be expected to write about. Abstract terms like honesty and love make good topics for definition essays. These abstract terms will require you to present your point of view in explaining the terms from your perspective.
A definition essay will allow you to express your understanding about a certain topic or idea. Though the definition may be small, it is going to be the crucial part of your essay and the whole essay will revolve around this definition.
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Choosing a Definition
One of the key steps of your definition essay is choosing the definition. Provided you are fully able to understand the term that you are going to present, you will be on your way to success. Therefore, it is vital that the definition is crystal clear to you before anyone else, only then will you be able to explain it with confidence. There are plenty of definition topics online that should inspire your selection of topic.
Three essential steps to writing an effective definition:
When writing a definition essay, there are three important steps that you should keep in mind. These will help in making your definition an effective one.
- Step 1-Be clear on the term that is being defined:
When starting your definition essay, make sure that you explain the term clearly. If you’ve been given an abstract topic and you decide to make it interesting by changing the general perception of it, don’t jump into creativity all at once. Start by explaining what the general term is and then you can present your own take on it. The idea is to start with a crystal clear definition, so that your readers are not left wondering.
- Step 2- Present basic information:
When writing a definition essay, always remember that you are not writing a research paper and therefore, you should avoid going into the complexities of things. Try to keep things nice and simple and present information that is easy to comprehend. You want your readers to understand your take on the topic and therefore you must present your essay in a way that will help your message get through to the target audience.
- Step 3- Use visuals, anecdotes, fact and figures:
Add some personality to your essay by incorporating high quality visuals along with various facts and figures that support your topic. The use of anecdotes will also help in making your definition essay a fun and interesting one to read. The internet proves to be a rich source of information and you could extract some really cool data to use in your essay. Always remember to keep the supporting information relevant to the topic and ensure that it can easily be understood by your target audience. You also want to reference everything that you cite.
Important points to keep in mind:
The definition is the most important part of your essay and needs to be written with utmost care. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t rely on a dictionary:
Although the dictionary or encyclopedia will provide you with a definition, it is not elaborate enough. You could use the dictionary or encyclopedia to get a general understanding but you must think of presenting the definition from your own perspective. You must offer your reader with a new perspective of looking at things, thereby enabling the reader to look at things from the same perspective.
- Base the definition on a personal experience:
A good way of attempting a definition essay is to base your definition on a personal experience. Not only will it make the writing activity enjoyable, it would get your creative juices flowing. If you try to define something that you have no interest in or have no personal experience of, it will make your essay activity overwhelming. This is something important to remember when finalizing a definition essay topic.
- Put a spin on an abstract topic:
If you’ve been assigned with an abstract topic for your definition essay, don’t be fooled into thinking that your essay will end up being plain and boring. Take things to the next level by putting a spin on your topic. Explore your topic’s definition from a different angle and focus on explaining the topic through a different, yet interesting perspective. You’ll easily be able to define any abstract topic. Let’s take an example. If your topic is “Chocolate,” don’t define it as a simple confectionary. If you love chocolate, you could probably explain how “Chocolate makes the world go round” and then how that works for you. The idea is to provide something interesting to read.
- Explain what the term is NOT:
An interesting way to define something is to start by explaining what the term is not. By attempting to define something in this manner, you allow room for creativity. When you define something by explaining what it actually isn’t, you demonstrate how the perception of people is inadequate and how you have a better understanding of it.
- Refine the topic:
This tip works best with abstract topics since it provides the reader with direction on writing the definition essay. Always try to refine the definition so you can explain one aspect of it. This is great for when you are stuck with too general of a topic and you cannot understand how you are going to write an entire essay on it. If your topic is “teacher,” you may want to explain what defines a good teacher. You could also add your personal experience and it should allow you to define the abstract topic with ease.
There’s no rocket science when it comes to writing a definition essay. The more essays that you write, the easier it will become to write them. Therefore, give your definition essays the time that they need and it won’t be long before you’re rewarded with a good grade.