Definition Essays: Explaining a Term With Examples, Facts and Anecdotes
Definition essays define a specific term through explanation. Defined terms can be concrete or abstract. Concrete terms are words like pencil, coffee or fan; abstract terms are words like integrity, honesty or love. When this type of essay defines something abstract, you usually write from your point of view. Before you jump into writing this essay format, make sure you understand the assignment well.
The main components of definition essays
There are three components that dictate what you write in a definition essay:
In addition, any term you select to define in the definition essay should have a complex meaning, possibly mean different things to different people and stay able to be discussed in a meaningful way.
Choosing the definition for your essay
While stating the term you intend to define seems pretty straightforward, some words have multiple meanings. The definition is the central point of the essay, so before you can write about it to explain it to your readers, you must first understand the specific meaning. Some words are very broad in definition and lend themselves to creating too broad of a topic. For example, “sleep” is very broad, but you can narrow the definition by defining “sleep deprivation” instead.
Writing the thesis statement for a definition essay
In a definition essay, the thesis statement is the term and its definition. It is very simple in nature and consists solely of the term and a very basic definition. Part of developing your thesis revolves around writing an effective definition. There are multiple approaches to defining your selected term:
Using facts, examples or anecdotes to write the definition essay
As you define your term more in-depth, select facts, examples or anecdotes you can use to define your term more completely. Considerations you should make while deciding on the best way to define the term include the following:
- Do certain examples make the term more understandable?
- Which examples or facts are the most appealing?
- Can an anecdote best explain the meaning of the term?
However you decide to explain the term, never use examples, facts or anecdotes that do not support the definition 100 percent.
Choosing definition essay topics
You have virtually unlimited choices when it comes to selecting a term to define in this type of essay. However, abstract terms lend the air to more creativity and personal anecdotes. Examples of terms you might choose include the following:
When selecting a term, aim to pick something that you find interesting and something to which you can personally relate. Not only does it make the writing process easier, but it generally makes what you write more interesting. As you wrap up your essay, the final paragraph is often used to share the personal meaning of the word you selected.
As any definition essay deals with defining a certain term, idea or concept it goes without saying that it thesis statement should contain the essence, the most important part and meaning of the whole definition presented to the reader. Basically, it is the thesis statement that reveals the level of the definition essay as it reveals the author’s ability to single out the most crucial part of the definition of the term. It is important to mention the fact that the dictionary only helps the author to write a correct thesis statement as it provides the author with several variations and interpretations of the term. In other words the author of the thesis statement needs to understand the meaning of the term and present it to the reader using his own language and explaining the general idea of the term. In order to do so the author needs to put the borders to the definition that will be presented to the reader in the thesis statement of the definition essay.