How to Write an Effective Definition Essay

One simple technique that teachers like to use when they teach students how to write a definition essay is to give them an example of a definition essay. It is an easy but very effective way to show students exactly what is asked of them when they are told to write a definition essay. This technique can also be easily imitated by students who wish to learn how to write different kinds of essays. There are so many examples of definition essays and definition paragraph examples available on the Internet. You can use them to serve as a model when writing your own definition essay. However, it also helps to learn how definition essay examples are written so that you know what to do when you sit down and start writing your own.

The term definition essay sounds simple enough to understand. It is a piece of a written work that aims to define something. Here, we take a point to emphasize that a definition essay is not simply a reinvention of definitions derived from the dictionary or some other general reference material. Most often, it is a treatise focusing on a single term and provides an extended definition of the term that comes from the writer’s own point of view. This is why you will hardly come upon definition essay examples that aim to define simple terms, such as money, tree or clothing, except when the writer employs his imagination and creates interesting definitions of these terms. A lot of the time, though, the examples of definition essays you will read aim to define abstract terms, such as love, freedom and social justice. People generally have common ideas about these terms, but they are difficult to pin down. Your job as a writer is to try and define these ideas in the definition essay.

Getting Ready to Write a Definition Essay

Definition essays have a personal nature, which means you are allowed to choose what you want to define. Here is where you have to be careful about the topics that you want to write about. Select a topic that you are deeply interested in and would like to explore even more, but do not run the risk of writing about something that you are vaguely familiar with, or else you end up writing not much or nothing at all. Moreover, your topic has to be just right for you. A term that is too broad, such as God, may not be fit for you. However, do not choose a term that is too narrow either, such as orange juice, may leave nothing for you to define. Go for a term that is somewhere in between. It is also advisable to work with abstract terms.

Writing a Definition Essay

There are three main parts of a definition essay sample: introduction, body and conclusion.

  1. Introduction. There are two main objectives of the introduction. The first is to lure your readers in; the second is to tell them what the essay is going to be about. Several techniques can be used to attract attention from readers and to convince them to continue reading. Any of these techniques will do, as long as they are used properly and in conjunction with a thesis statement that says in one sentence what the essay is all about. Your thesis statement can be a brief and general definition or could a short explanation of how you will define the term that is the subject of your essay.
  2. Body. Here is where you flesh out the term to be defined and there are many ways to do this. This can be done by defining it according to its function, which is useful in defining terms like democracy and Lady Justice. It can also be done according to structure, such as when defining a social unit like a family. Other writers like to define something by describing it, analyzing it or explaining how it is done. Still, you can also choose to define something by identifying what it is not. It can be a complicated technique but may work well for terms that are very difficult to define, such as love.
  3. Conclusion. Close your essay with something that points a reference back to the introduction. This will provide a unifying effect on your essay and keep your readers satisfied at the end. This is also the perfect time for you to interject your own feelings about the term you have defined and show your readers how it has affected you.

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