How to Write Definition Essays

The Definition Essay – It Evolves!

In high school, students are asked to write relative simple definition essays, usually relative to concrete things – define a light rail system; define unmanned drones; define propaganda. A definition essay of this type is rarely more than 5 paragraphs and usually involves breaking something down into its parts, speaking to each part, and then putting it back together as a whole for a conclusion. So long as one has an accurate definition with which to work, the definitions essay is not a too burdensome task.

Definition essays evolve as a student moves on to college, and they actually become essays papers in which research is required in order to define broader and more complex ideas, concepts, and other abstract phenomena. Students may not know how to write an essay paper that is focused on a definition, and this can be a bit of a challenge. At this point, it is important to remember the basics – you will take the abstract concept or idea, break it down into its parts, and define each part before you put it back together. The rules don’t change; only the topic and the depth do.

Consider these examples of definition essays papers topics: democracy, capitalism, relativity theory, psychosis, critical thinking, or the law of supply and demand. It is easy to immediately see that defining any of these things will require research and a synopsis of how experts may define them. Opinions on definitions may vary, and it is our job to summarize those opinions and to come up with your own definitions. Analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are all required for these more complex definition pieces. Writing essay papers that focus on definitions are not easy!

Here are a few tips for producing definition essays papers.

  1. Conduct a “Google” search with just the word or phrase as your search term. This will immediately bring up hundreds of links. One will be Wikipedia, and that is a good place to start. Reading this version of the definition will give you a broad general idea of the word or term. Online dictionaries will also provide broad definitions, so it would not hurt to access one or two.
  2. Read scholarly articles about the word or phrase. If, for example, you are supposed to define global warming, think of the huge amount of writing that exists on this topic! Your biggest challenge will be to narrow the focus and perhaps simply define one aspect or cause of global warming. Your introduction may contain the broad definition of the term, and then you can tell your reader that you are going to focus only on defining the “greenhouse effect.” Now you have a topic that is truly manageable.
  3. It is important to keep your vocabulary and terminology appropriate for the a reader. If you are in a graduate-level environmental science class, for example, sophisticated scientific vocabulary is appropriate. If, however, your audience is not a scientific one, you will want to use basic vocabulary and define simplistically for the “novice” reader. Give specific examples whenever you can do this.
  4. Remember that the basic requirements of a research work apply here. If you are using the words, ideas, or opinions of other people, they must be accurately cited so that you do not face plagiarism charges.
  5. Your bibliography should reflect all of the sources you used in your research, and your format and citation style must conform to the instructor’s requirements.

Need Some Help?

Definition essay papers are challenging, and it is easy to become frustrated when there is too much information “out there” and so many differing opinions on a definition. If you are experiencing information “overload” and struggling with the direction your essay paper should take, it might be wise to contact an online custom essay service for some help. Many of these services produce custom essay papers for students at all levels, and they can even provide sample essay papers online for a relatively cheap custom essay price. You can study how these essays papers are constructed, or, barring that, order an original piece written solely for you. The decision to buy essay papers when you are experiencing difficulty can be a perfect solution!

When writing a definition essay one must be careful about not to use compound words and complex meanings. You should compare the examples and choose the ones that provide the meaning that you wish your readers to understand. It would be great reading experience if you make your essay filled with interesting examples of different meanings in different contexts. You are supposed to write an introduction as it represents an understandable picture on the very definition that you are about to prove in your work, as well as a conclusion that should be related to the introduction.