How to Create the Perfect Definition Essay

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35 minutes
Updated Oct 21, 2021
How to Create the Perfect Definition Essay

It is difficult for all students to write an essay, no matter what type, but still raises many questions. After all, each of them has its definition, sometimes complex terms are not entirely clear, and the desire to write something disappears. In this article, we will talk about a particular type. A definition essay can be different in style and genre; it is appropriate in any class in the study of any branch of science.

We have created this guide so that each of you can understand this type of essay, what are its features and goals. You will also learn how to choose a topic, including and how to get high marks. Our secrets will help you get the work done in a few hours. Read carefully, and you will surely achieve your goal. Trust the professionals, and you will not have any difficulties if you follow the instructions.

What Does Definition Essay Mean?

If you read the term "definition essay," then it is clear what this article is about; that is, the name speaks for itself. For example, you have a specific target audience interested in the meanings of words, and respectively, you need to explain any term broadly. This essay does the floor or one page; it is not necessary to write too much. A couple of paragraphs will be enough to determine.

Regardless of what kind of writing assignment you have, the information you will write should be based on the topic. We warn you right away that people are not interested in reading articles, facts that have long been known to everyone. Choose a topic that will be interesting for you to work with and for the reader to study. If you decide that you need to write about the sun, apple, pencil, this is a good topic, and then we hasten to upset you. The meanings of these words are known to people since kindergarten. We recommend using words that initially cause misunderstanding, and in the end, you explain its importance in simple words.

Why choose little-known topics? Because you are a writer, you need to be original, to have something to catch the reader's attention. You have to be like a teacher who brings knowledge to your audience. Your information should be written clearly because the reader needs to understand the term and refer to your article. If you describe it in a generalized and confusing way, consider this bad work.

Main Goals of a Definition Essay

This is a particular type of essay, which is aimed to define any word. The reader needs to learn new facts about words, for this essay was created. To define, it is necessary to choose words that carry some meaning and not be taken literally. For example, words such as table, car, book have specific purposes and should not be given much attention.

It is more interesting to read concepts that have a broad meaning and are interpreted in different ways. For example, the word “love” for everyone has its purpose. In the same way, you can express in the essay what this word means to you. You can write both in an artistic style and in terms of science. Depending on the situation, you can choose the style that suits you best or studies the audience for which you write to understand which style is closer to them. If the essays are for a teacher, it is better to clarify what he expects to hear from you.

Once again, we remind you that your main goal is to choose the perfect theme. Now that you know precisely the definition and purpose of this type of essay, we can proceed to the next stages: the structure, the choice of the topic, where to start, essay example, etc.

How To Choose Ideas For Definition Essay

The idea of ​​an essay is the pivot that holds the whole work. You need to write down the main idea in 2-3 sentences so that the answers to the wording questions are given. To think about an idea is to understand what the essay should be about. To do this, you should analyze each term in the wording of the topic and find a keyword that will open the article's main idea. Consider a table with ideas for your essay. It includes words that are interesting to read about:

Concept Idea Worldview
Category Sin Happiness
Author Friendship Fate
God Composition Honor
Choice Soul Insight
Hero Morality Excess
Debt Conflict Collaboration
Power Ideal Cognitive
Good Personality Experience
Evil True Desire
Genre Society Aura
Term Virtue Conscience

An idea is an essential component for every person. And most importantly, it is a spark, an impetus, pushing a person to write. It is after the appearance of an idea that the desire to write an essay usually arises.

Before writing an essay, it is recommended to read the dictionary. In this case, the person will broaden his horizons on a particular topic, and it will be easier for him to finish the work. If you write essays regularly, your vocabulary will gradually expand; it will become easier to conclude, select valid arguments, and create an essay outline.

Step By Step Tutorial

A definition essay is a type of written work that implies reasoning on a particular topic. Sometimes reflections are allowed to be expressed in a free form, but sometimes a specific sequence is required. It all depends on what kind of essay is being written. In our case, there is a definite step-by-step instruction.

The ability to write an essay consists of several skills. A first grader can learn some. If a student often writes his texts on various occasions, he will not have problems with essays. Therefore, first, you need freedom and a minimum of requirements. Our instruction is for those who cannot structure the text themselves. There are many such students, so don't be discouraged.

Let's take a closer look at each step first before getting started. Then you can edit the text to make it more intelligible. You can ignore mistakes: you need to learn to describe the world, state facts, express your thoughts.

Choose the Word

The modern world is filled with a variety of informational words. People learn news from television and newspapers, and Internet resources also help find information. But the best thing is to download fiction books and read them. In this case, it is guaranteed that you will receive a mass of useful information, expand your horizons, change your worldview, and replenish your vocabulary. As practice shows, even the best films cannot make a person fantasize and reflect, as literary samples do.

It is recommended to download books because a person can quickly get acquainted with many years of experience and research and find exciting words in just a couple of hours. Now all knowledge is written down. It remains only to read it and draw your conclusions. It is imperative to follow new words and do your best to find information on it.

Choose words that you are first interested in working with. After all, the reader immediately sees the works written from the heart, not just for a good assessment. Only after you have decided on the right word can you proceed to the next step.

Describe an Abstract Word

Abstract words cannot evoke any visual images in consciousness or memory and are not associated with any specific images. The category of abstract words can include non-material concepts, for example, "understanding," "projection," "feeling." Also, abstract words can be formed in a separate population depending on knowledge and memory content.

Abstract words of an everyday language are widely represented in the language competence of children of senior preschool and primary school age. Abstract words of everyday language ("good", "happiness", "beauty", "time", "friendship", etc.) are words with vaguely expressed objective connotations.

List of abstract concepts (or words that do not have specific images):

enthusiasm trembling stock
echo training design
the missing copy fatigue
deceleration cheerfulness cunning
activity communication replacement
closeness denomination coziness
stimulus duty preservation
bureaucrat delight glory
impulsiveness cool charm
caress motto tightness

Word Should be Disputable and Controversial

Controversial words or ambiguous words are not uncommon in English. Very often, the same word can be used to name or describe completely different objects or phenomena. Such words have one basic meaning - primordial, literal, and figuratively - symbolic, metaphorical. Such words usually arise based on some sign, similarity, association. Let's look at an example of a list of controversial words about which you can write an essay:

Ticket:

  • Direct meaning - Plane or train ticket, theater or cinema ticket.
  • Figurative meaning - Examination ticket.

Crest:

  • Direct meaning - Hair brushing tool, comb.
  • Figurative meaning - Wave crest or mountain.

Word:

  • Direct meaning - Speech unit.
  • Figurative meaning - Literary genre.

Brush:

  • Direct meaning - The hand is a part of the body from the wrist to the fingertips.
  • Figurative meaning - A tool for painting with paints.

Job:

  • Direct meaning - Physical labor, effort, human occupation.
  • Figurative meaning - The visible result of physical labor is "Good job!"

You Should Familiar with Your Word

The English language is extremely diverse but not structured - it allows a lot of liberties both in the construction of sentences and in the use of specific word forms. If the person say “lodge on the table,” the meaning will remain not clear. There are enough such assumptions in the language. Still, if their number exceeded the number of existing rules, then the interlocutors would cease to understand what they are saying to each other.

To maintain the formal structure of the language, there are linguistic norms taught in school and are continually being transformed - they are not ossified formulas. But how to maintain order words themselves? How to find out which letter is written in a word, from which language it came. Where is the stress placed in it, how was the century used, and what does it mean? For this purpose, there are definitions, the authors of which carry out colossal work on processing vast amounts of information. Therefore, you should know the word better than any dictionary.

Learn Definition in the Dictionary

There are two types of dictionaries:

  • Linguistic - it tells about the whole variety of structures of the language, its norms, and their use. It also gives recommendations for people whose profession is related to philology and linguistics. So, the subject of linguistic dictionaries is specifically the words and norms of the language.
  • Encyclopedia dictionaries are dictionaries about the reality around us. One can learn what "passionately" is if the school curriculum's knowledge has disappeared, or something more straightforward but necessary at the moment. With the advent of the global network, searching for the meanings of concepts in dictionaries has remained in the habit only among the elderly. At the same time, the modern generation is unlikely to undertake it at all. But although search speed is a disadvantage of printed publications, there are electronic versions of them, where you can use the usual "find" function, like an Internet browser. All articles in encyclopedias are written by experts in their field so that you can be sure of this information.

Use all the definitions of a word in the dictionary, and only then start writing. You can also make notes if you do not understand some information. Then you can consult with a linguistic science expert and decide for yourself what is worth writing.

Find the Word Origins

A problematic question of any explanatory dictionary: will the meaning of the word recorded in the collection be a good definition? If you say the word "table" to two people, will they represent the same object? Of course not.

This mental table will have those characteristics and features that proceed from the subject's character's premises for each of them. For example, the first will represent a carved wooden table, and the second - a factory plastic one.This means that you first need to determine where your word, about which you write, originates. Let's consider an example:

The table is a typical Slavic word derived from "stlati." Initially - "bedding," then rethinking the meaning to the modern "table." In the distant past, it was understood as covered and associated with "lay." But then there is disagreement.

Some people think that this word was initially used to refer to the tablecloth, which is used to cover the meal's place. 

The word meant not only a tablecloth, which is covered but also an object for which you can turn gray. That is why "table" came to mean "throne," "throne of the prince." Others believe that in the beginning, the "table-stand for the meal" did not exist yet; "Table" meant only "bedding for sitting" and only later began to suggest that on which food is placed when eating.

Key Elements of Great Definition Essay

To be able to write a definition essay correctly, you need to know the key elements. If you were asked to write a definition of a word, then stick to the same structure as in other essays:

  1. Introduction;
  2. Thesis statement;
  3. Body part;
  4. Conclusion.

In the essay introduction paragraph, you need to come up with a thesis proposal. It is on it that the whole composition is based. It should consist of one or more sentences. For example, you want to prove that the word “flower” has several meanings. Then your thesis will look something like this: "I believe that the word “flower” has two implications; on the one hand, it is an organ breeding plant, and on the other hand it is a bright, aromatic head on a plant. To prove it, I turned to the dictionary. "

Next, you need to write body paragraphs. It is these paragraphs that are considered the simplest. To do this, you need to do research with the dictionary and find more accurate statements about any word's origin. There is no need to rewrite the text. Your task is to write so that it is clear to the reader, that is, in your own words. You can choose several points of view in dictionaries and explain them all. But while doing so, stick to logical transitions. Each new thought should be written from a new paragraph.

The last paragraph is the conclusion. You need to summarize all the information written before and conclude whether your thesis was confirmed. Give a compelling fact to make the reader believe you. Then write that your research led to a specific result, describe it.

Analyze And Classify The Term

The analysis is a characteristic of the sound and letter composition of a word. To perform it, a transcription is written - an accurate record of the word's sound composition. Word parsing is necessary for the English language's conscious mastery, the correct spelling of words, especially when the words contain unstressed vowels, unpronounceable consonants, letters denoting two sounds, letters that do not represent sounds, etc.

The analysis is performed in several stages. The sound-alphabetic analysis involves dividing a word into syllables by the number of vowel sounds, stressing, and recording a word's sound. Then a phonetic study of each sound is carried out. The phonetic analysis is completed by counting the number of letters and sounds.

What does it mean to classify a term? Since all the terms describing the system of concepts of a particular field of knowledge are structurally interrelated, their ordering should be based, first of all, on the structure of connections within science. Terms are grouped not in any order that the system of a particular language can prescribe to them, but based on the systematic nature of the science they reflect.

It is through the classification scheme that the logical-conceptual structure of the subject area is revealed and demonstrated. Classification of objects under study is an entirely traditional method of cognition. The varieties are based on individual features: content, formal, functional, intra-lingual, and linguistic. All these classifications can be associated with the sciences and fields of knowledge in which they are used.

Provide The Common Definition

Creating a standard definition is to write what the word means according to the dictionary. A word that has only one lexical meaning is called unambiguous. A word with several lexical meanings, between which there is a semantic connection, is called polysemantic. Accordingly, you need to determine how many meanings a word has and write everything about them.

There are many words in the English language, and all of them are recorded in dictionaries. Each student must use the words correctly, understanding what they mean. In the dictionary, you can find context, quotes, where the term is used. This makes the decoding of the meaning even more understandable. You can also give a general definition if you choose single-root structures. For example, if you already know the meaning of the word “forest,” then “forester” and “forest” are intuitive. The selection of synonyms and antonyms helps to understand what this or that word means.

Explain The Word in Your Own Words

When you study the meanings of the term in the dictionary, then write everything that you understand in the most accessible words, it may look like this:

"According to the dictionary, a hand is a part of a person's body, his upper limb, which has fingers. With the help of his hands, I also know that a person can do various work (sewing, tinkering, building), playing musical instruments, writing, drawing, etc. "

Compare It With Something Familiar

Comparison is a stylistic device based on a symbolic study of two words. It is indeed possible to establish egalitarian relations between some terms, which is difficult for a writer. But in this unusualness lies the full power of comparison as a stylistic device in artistic speech. The comparison will help the author to give the term a new meaning.

Comparisons are most often applied to words about which little is known. By using comparison, you can explain the term in more accessible words. Let's take an example:

"I want to do some research on a concept like 'confrere.' This word is poorly understood. This word means that a person is a colleague, a member of a brotherhood, a party. "

As you can see in the example, a comparison is made, as if this word could be called differently. You have to follow the same pattern, choose synonyms, and compare.

Tell About the Origins

We use different words almost every day, but we do not think about how they appeared and what was their original meaning. Let's consider a few examples of how you can write about the origin of a word:

"The word" teacher "was invented in ancient Greece and did not mean a teacher at all. Teachers were called slaves who took children to school and took home from school. As a rule, slaves who were no longer fit for anything were used for this work."

"The Greek "school" originally meant leisure, free time, then began to be used as leisure activities , then - study sessions, conversation of philosophers."

"The word "humor" is a liquid. In ancient medicine, the human condition was described by the ratio of four fluids - blood, lymph, yellow and black bile - which they called "humor." According to the ancients, it was the ratio of these fluids that determined human health and well-being. any humor in the body should be in moderation. "

"The word "parasite" owes its origin not to biology at all. It came from the everyday language of Ancient Greece, where it meant: "dining at a party." A negative connotation was imposed on it by antique comedies, where one of the typical heroes was a parasite, in general - negative character."

Use Vivid Examples To Illustrate

You have probably witnessed exciting events. To illustrate a term, you can use your personal story. For example, once you wrote a descriptive essay about a place and chose the word "city," accordingly, you can give an example of a site from this essay that you admire. Indeed you have had situations that caused positive emotions, then choose the word "good" and write a story about what actions you associate it with. These can be stories about how you saved a puppy or gave flowers to your mother; there are many ideas, the main thing is to illustrate the word, and you will be able to make a good impression on the reader.

Explain What The Word Does Not Correlate With

Often people use words whose meaning does not always correspond to the action. Therefore, you must explain why a certain term should not be taken so literally. Consider words that can often be confused:

Signature: please put your signature at the bottom of the document

Ethical: we must not violate the ethical code of our profession.

Ethical: It is essential to cultivate an ethical attitude towards others.

Organic: Jessica wears organic cosmetics.

Organic: The music blends organically with the video.

Use Different Paragraphs For Different Definitions

If you want to define multiple terms, separate them with paragraphs. First, it's easy to read. Secondly, the reader will not get confused in terms. Adhere to this rule, and then your composition will look organic.

Common Definition Essay Ideas

Now that you know everything about this type of essay, you can start choosing a topic. We have selected the most exciting ideas by categories that are most often interesting to the reader. Below you will find illustration essay topics, love topics, friendship topics, happiness topics, and individual topics for college students. Choose any theme you like, follow our instructions and you are guaranteed success.

Love

Love is different: parents and children, men and women, a person, and the world around him. List of topics:

  1. Love is a beautiful feeling.
  2. Power of love.
  3. What is love?
  4. Love that everyone dreams of.
  5. Love as a vice and as the highest spiritual value.
  6. What is more important: for someone to love you or do you love?
  7. Where does the feeling of love come from?
  8. Parental love.
  9. Adolescent love.
  10. Does it hurt to love?

Freedom

To be free means not to depend on anyone. List of topics:

  1. What does freedom mean to me? Am I free?
  2. Freedom during communism.
  3. Why is it so crucial for today's youth to be free?
  4. Are our independence and freedom different?
  5. Why should everyone be free?
  6. Freedom today and freedom several centuries ago.
  7. Freedom does it mean to be happy?
  8. Is it possible to be a free person and live injustice?
  9. Does modern society give a person freedom or limit his actions?
  10. Why is freedom a fear for prisoners?

Happiness

For everyone, happiness is an invaluable gift. List of topics:

  1. Is it possible to combine success and happiness?
  2. Do parents influence the happiness of children?
  3. What does happiness mean to you? Are you a lucky person?
  4. Is happiness the most important feeling that every person should know?
  5. Can a happy childhood affect your future lifestyle?
  6. Are modern people happy, or are they under the influence of power?
  7. Does being happy mean having a lot of money?
  8. What feelings does happiness consist of?
  9. If a person has never loved, can he be happy?
  10. How do people relate to the concept of happiness?

Friendship

Each of us has a friend. But friendship is an early concept for everyone. Here are the definition essay topics about friendship:

  1. Have many friends or one reliable?
  2. Where does friendship come from?
  3. How old does a real friendship begin?
  4. To be a friend means to value the opinion of another person?
  5. Do you need to value friendship?
  6. Can parents and children be friends?
  7. Can boys and girls be friends, or is someone sure to fall in love?
  8. Lonely or making friends?
  9. Is helping a friend a must?
  10. Can a friend betray?

Exciting Topics Definition Essay for College

In college, this task is more challenging to complete. You need to choose topics according to your age:

  1. What does it mean to do a project for a business? Define two terms.
  2. What does it mean to be a shopaholic?
  3. Where did the term American Dream come from? What does it mean to people?
  4. How do residents of different countries approach marriage?
  5. What does it mean to respect the opinion of the other person?
  6. What does it mean to be a hero? What qualities should a hero have?
  7. Where does depression come from? How do people deal with depression?
  8. Distance learning what does it mean for the student?
  9. How to build a successful career? What does a career mean for each of us?
  10. Is it convenient to live on a schedule? How to create the correct schedule for the day?
Tasha Kolesnikova
Content Team Member

I studied sociology and marketing at Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany) and Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal). When I was a sophomore, back in 2018, I decided to put what I've learned into practice, so I got my first job in digital marketing. I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.