Knowing how to write a definition essay is one of the best skills that can be useful for expressing your own idea regarding particular topics, concept, term or issue and developing research skills that are highly appreciated in any US college (ex. Harvard) or any higher educational establishment. Still, a few questions may occur when looking at general requirements for writing an essay of good quality.
For instance, what is a definition essay, how do you choose definition essay topics? Which topics are appropriate examples and which are better to avoid? What structure should it have? How to create a thesis for such essay? Or, how do we create the best topic that appropriately defines what we are about to write? What sources can be used while writing this kind of essay? All these questions are quite important for any definitive text and every student should be aware of the answers. If such essay is a new genre for you or you just want to refresh your memory on the topics, this article will cover all the necessary details.
How Do I Get Started Before Choosing Topic
Before beginning working, one should really understand what a definition essay is. The answer is quite easy. It is an essay type in which you focus on explaining and breaking down a meaning of one word. It is an in-depth analysis aimed at discussing and digging up a true understanding based on your own ideas. But, there is a catch: any idea you develop must be backed up by credible and verified evidence.
Seems to be a tough task to choose topics. Why so?
There exist words that are spelled or pronounced similarly but have different meanings. For a student who does not investigate properly, it is very easy to get confused and to mix up definitions or explanations. Interpreting a word in a write-up requires a lot of research, study, and reading. Therefore, when you think of ways to generate exciting and eye-catching definition extended essays topics, here are things you should find out:
- Origin of the word: You should be able to search for information regarding its origin — is it French, American, Gaelic? How it was coined, who used it first, where was it used, etc.
- Context: Context of usage could have changed over time. Prepare tangible resources that prove or dispute that fact.
- Previous versions: Some words are updated versions of what they were in the past. Try to find these versions if possible in order to track alteration of the word.
- Usage: How do we use this word today? Have there been any controversial uses for it over time?
Always keep in mind that all these details will be arranged from your personal view, i.e. you have to ‘own’ the definition, quote it in your own words.
Definition Essay Outline — Is It Helpful?
It is impossible to start working on an essay without an outline, especially on an extended definition essay. One can easily get confused without a well-written plan with a well-thought structure of a future paper. Many US universities suggest their students outline their papers as it helps to understand details for structure — what should be in essay and what should not be there. It also helps not to lose the main thought and follow your thesis and serves as a guide.
A definitive essay outline also serves as a map of sorts because it already consists of essay parts arranged according to the order of their appearance. Have you noticed how easy it is to mess up an essay, especially a long one (let’s say, 5000 words) when you try to make some content edits? To avoid such incidents, it is recommended to complete an outline to know how paragraphs should be arranged in order to provide a smooth and consistent transition.
Structure — Identifying all Parts
An extended definition essay has a quite interesting structure. While it might not look very different from commonly used structure of, an argument-rooted essay, for example, there still exist some peculiarities that set this essay type apart from others. Here is an outline template that is in line with the requirements of most US universities:
- Introduction: It is your chance to set the stage for rest of the write-up. The idea here is to inform readers of what to expect. Introduce the word, term you are about to define and provide a dictionary definition of it. Keep your introduction paragraph simple, and do not disclose too much detail here.
- Thesis statement: In your thesis complete your own extended definition of a word or term based on your research and understanding of it.
- Main body: Remember that whole load of research you did when preparing? The body is where you arrange all that data — origin, context, previous versions, usage. Using paragraphs for each aspect, identify core parts in true meaning and provide an explanation where needed. Make your work good enough to meet requirements for an interesting read, as well as an academic work.
- Conclusion: For conclusion, general idea is, to sum up, what has been discussed in this paper — different explanations, description and others. This is akin to closing remarks and is never a good point to start a fresh set of arguments — keep that in mind.
Each of these outline parts plays an important role in making your definition essay look presentable, easy to read and follow. Completing an outline and good research will help to reach these goals.
Read also: 150 Argumentative Essay Topics
GUIDE TO 100 DEFINITION ESSAY TOPICS TO CHOOSE FROM
Now, when you know everything about a definition essay, go through a compiled list of 100 definition paper topics one can choose from for any essay. These 100 topics will be outlined in 10 categories. This list is shown below:
Topics on 'college'
- The concept of 'college'
- What is ideal college
- What does ‘college’ signify?
- College: The evolution of a term
- College: search for true sense
- More than just the word — what is a college?
- Ways to define 'college'
- Definition of a good college
- The college story origin
- What is college for you?
'Argument' as a topic
- How to define argument
- The word argument — extended meanings and definitions
- Misuse or abuse — close look at ‘argument’ as a word
- Interpreting ‘argument’ as a term
- Definition essay on 'argument'
- The concept of defining an argument
- Breaking down the extended meaning of argument
- The use of the word ’argument’ in medieval times
- How to define the term 'argument'
- Comprehensive breakdown on arguments
Interpreting topics on 'happiness'
- What is happiness?
- Happiness: the myth
- Concept of happiness: journey through the ages
- Defining Happiness as an abstract word
- The different meanings of Happiness
- The term ‘happiness’ in academic writing
- Defining happiness from the American perspective
- A day in the dictionary: defining happiness
- The happiness perspective: sense and thoughts
- The many faces of happiness
'Freedom' as a topic
- Definition of abstract terms: freedom
- Cross-Examination ‘freedom’
- Between reality and fantasy: meaning of freedom
- Freedom as a literary term: origin and relevance
- The deep, unspoken sense of freedom
- Understanding the concept of freedom
- An in-depth expose on the term freedom
- What are the common meanings of freedom?
- Origins of 'freedom' as a word
- What freedom really is
Great topic 'family'
- Unspoken meaning of “family”
- What is a family? A short essay
- A definitive essay on ‘family’
- A concept or an institution: ‘family’ at a glance
- Interpreting family
- The true sense of family
- Definition of family: An American approach
- The word ‘family’ in academic essays
- How to define terms: an example of ‘family’
- Family: Possible meaning and origin
What is love - eternal topic
- Love: finding right definition
- A short essay on 'love's' origin
- What love means to a teenager
- The different sides of love
- What is love — a definitive expose
- Analysing ‘love’: extended interpretation
- A different perspective for love
- Love as defined by a sophomore
- What love means — a journey through academic writing
- Defining love based on Poetry
Know your 'history' topics
- Explanations of history form a historical point of view
- What is history?
- The evolution of definitions — a look at the term ‘history’
- Defining history: A personal theory
- Origin of the term ‘history’
- The extended interpretation of ‘history’
- Examining the concept of history through past centuries
- Academics vs Politics: The extended meaning of 'history'
- A comparison of the different definitions of 'history'
- Terms with interesting meanings — 'history'
Mind your 'business' topics
- Explaining 'business' as a term
- Defining 'business' to a layman
- The many meanings of 'business'
- 'Business': original extended meaning
- Perspective on 'business': A layman’s definition
- 'Business': what does it mean?
- Finding the extended meaning for 'business'
- A definitive essay on 'business'
- How to properly define business
- What is 'business'?
'Sport' on topic
- Defining 'sport'
- What is 'sport'
- Experience vs career: how to interpret 'sport'
- A sportsman’s perspective of 'sport'
- The evolution of 'sport': a look through ages
- How I understand 'sport'
- The origin of the word ‘sport’
- The unspoken definition of 'sport'
- A definitional expose on 'sport'
- What is 'sport'
'Science' topics on any taste
- Defining 'science' in today’s world
- What does 'science' really mean — a personal perspective
- The many definitions of 'science'
- What is 'science'? A brief historical definition
- Origin of the term — 'science'
- Extended definition of 'science' in the previous ages
- Exploring the term 'science'
- Science: defining a common term
- Creating the logical definition for science
- Science — definitions and reality
Read also: Examples of Reflective Essay Topics
DEFINITION ESSAY EXAMPLES
Below are two definition essay examples. These would serve as a factual guide on how to begin writing and ways to keep information relevant. They would help you understand all do’s and don’ts of this essay types and help you to work towards your perfect essay.
“The Statue of Liberty
During revolution years the need came up for America to choose a physical symbol for what founding fathers stood…”
Notice how writer used a hook at the beginning instead of providing a boring definition at once:
“The Statue of Liberty can be defined as…”
Key rule in writing an extended definition essay: never start with the main idea. Look for suitable ways to create an inversion, i.e. create a cascade of paragraphs that will gradually lead to term being explained.
In the years that followed the discovery of electricity, many human attempts were made to understand the effects that emulated together to achieve the fluorescence produced by…”
Another key rule is: When dealing with science, keep it scientific. Do not deviate to use layman terms, especially if this is meant to be purely academic paper. Let your etymology rhyme with context on which this essay is formed.
Here is third rule that would help you especially in definition argument topics is avoiding what is referred to as ‘mindless lifting’ — direct copying of an explanation from the source. If a certain analogy was used to make an explanation, look for more persuasive analogy that could achieve the same effect. Avoid direct copying from outside source in order not be accused of plagiarism.
FOUND THE TOPIC BUT NO TIME TO WRITE?
Writing an essay requires choosing a well-constructed topic. But with good information and the right guide, it becomes easier to handle. At EduBirdie comes a lot of work and time, as well as, one of our main objectives is to guide students with their academic tasks that appear to be complex, like one we discussed in this article.
If you still have any difficulties with writing a definition essay, our writers are ready to help you with the ideas for a topic, outline or thesis writing help. We are available 24/7 and will be glad to offer you a helping hand. Still, not sure if you need it? Message us to learn more about what writers can do!