What is a definition essay? Understanding how to write one first requires an understanding of the essay definition itself. Definition essays introduce, explain, and explore a specific term. To be written successfully, special consideration must be given to choosing the subject and the composition of the essay. While these writing components are of obvious importance in any kind of writing, they take on additional importance when writing a definition essay.
Explain Why It Is Important
To begin with, look to find a subject that can be utilized effectively. If it is too narrow, there is not enough to write on; choosing a topic that is too broad limits the depth of analysis that can be explored.
Successful definition essays explore concepts such as honesty, freedom, or common sense. Abstracts such as these allow for interpretation that goes beyond simply quoting a definition from a dictionary and then rewording it repeatedly to satisfy a word count.
Composing a definition essay follows the standard pattern that is used in writing other types of essays: introduction, body, and conclusion. Often writers will introduce more information in the introduction than in other types of essays, such as a definition or an interesting or novel fact about the subject.
Other techniques that can be employed in the introduction can include introducing a contrary definition in order to supply a counterpoint that can be discussed fully within the body of the essay, and the introduction should conclude with a topic sentence that contains the definition of the subject.
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The body of the definition essay should be constructed to illustrate the points of the topic sentence, separated into sections to provide clear understanding. Use your counterpoint, if you have chosen to do so, in each section of the body to argue your viewpoint against anticipated criticism. This is especially important if your topic is controversial or especially open to interpretation, such as with terms such as liberty, intelligence, or patriotism. This can be especially effective when discussing terms such as these that have a philosophical component or are open to different interpretation.
As with any essay, the conclusion should cover the points that have been raised in the body of the essay. If the topic being defined is one that is of personal significance to the writer, including the ways that their life has been impacted by the topic or how it has influenced their life, can be effective methods to utilize in the conclusion.
The conclusion can also refer to examples or facts that were presented in the introduction and restate them using the information that has been given within the body of the essay. If freedom is the topic, for example, and the Declaration of Independence is mentioned in the introduction, finding a contemporary issue that contains the same elements of freedom that surrounded the writers of the Declaration, such as countries that are currently fighting for sovereignty, can be effective.
A successful definition essay will not be focused upon a quoted selection from a dictionary or other reference work. Choosing a topic that is sufficiently esoteric allows a writer to present information that will inform, and hopefully be interesting to readers. Composing the essay in a logical progression from introduction to body and then conclusion will allow for presenting the topic successfully and in an engaging manner. A definition essay does more than define; it must also explain the concept and its importance to the writer to the audience.