Definition Essay: Types, Writing Guidelines, Interesting Topics, and Examples From Our Veteran Writers

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Are you confused about writing a definition essay? For starters, this is one of the essay assignments that is given to school and college students to understand how clearly they can present their views on a topic. You must understand that this essay differs from other essay types. So, if you don’t have the idea to write this essay, follow this article.

We will guide you through the basics of this essay and provide valuable tips to come up with a brilliant paper.

What Is A Definition Essay?

As the title suggests, this essay offers an explanation of a particular concept, word, term, idea, or phrase. The essay aids in the clarification of a term’s meaning, especially if the term has multiple meanings. One may assess this essay based on the writer’s subjectivity and the exact or direct meaning of the word that is discussed.

Furthermore, this type of essay is written to define complex terms. While writing this essay, one must not limit themselves to providing dictionary meanings/definitions; instead, one must offer a detailed description that improves the readers’ knowledge. In short, the essay must provide extensive knowledge about the term that is not commonly found in dictionaries.

The goal of this essay is to define the term and also explain why it is defined in such a way. This essay must consist of a formal explanation of the term with sufficient background information. The essay must be clear and convey the correct meaning to the reader. Furthermore, the writer must include facts, examples, or anecdotes. 

What Should The Definition Essay Include?

A definition essay should include the following components:

  • A brief explanation of the word
  • A concise and specific definition
  • A key point
  • One of many developmental patterns
  • Negation and clarification of misconceptions

Definition Essay Outline

Before writing an essay, it is prudent to have a plan; in other words, it is good to have an outline so that you don’t get lost while writing the essay. The outline for the definition essay consists of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Introduction: This is the first section of the essay where you introduce your topic. The thesis statement will be included in this section. It may help to begin the introduction with the dictionary meaning of the word and gradually build the essay from this point. As with any other paper, you must include an “attention-grabbing” sentence to catch the reader’s attention in this essay. Additionally, the thesis statement must be strong, as it is a crucial part of the essay. 
  • Main body: The body section must have three paragraphs, where the first body paragraph must talk about the term’s origin or background. The second body paragraph must explain the meaning in detail, and the third paragraph must include your personal opinion or definition of the same.
  • Conclusion: This section will be the summary of your essay, so do not include any new information here. Just tie up all the information and conclude the essay with strong points. 

How To Write A Definition Essay?

To write a definition essay, you can follow a basic essay structure; introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Furthermore, follow the steps given below to write an outstanding definition essay easily:

  • Choose the term you want to define: The first step in writing a definition essay starts with selecting a topic or a word (in this case). While sometimes you can get the topic from your instructors, it might only happen sometimes. So, be ready to choose a topic when such a scenario occurs. 

When choosing the term, ensure that you know the term or are familiar with it. Be specific about the term and select something that is not too simple. Try not to write about places or persons as they are straightforward and lack the potential to make a great term. 

Furthermore, pick something that has multiple meanings, such as “love,” which has different meanings and interpretations from different people. Terms such as this give you the opportunity to put forth your perspective. 

  • Perform the research: After selecting the word, start the research and find out about the various meanings of the word. Gather as much information as you can about the word from credible sources and make a note of it. 
  • Create an outline and arrange the content: Once you have enough information, organize them in a logical order and create an outline with it. You can refer to the outline given in the above section to create an outline.
  • Write the essay: Start writing the essay once you complete the outline. You can develop the article from the outline using different methods/techniques, namely:
  • Analysis: Divide the topic into sub-parts and define each of them separately.
  • Classification: Define a term in terms of the classes to which it or its elements belong.
  • Comparison: Contrast and contrast numerous terms or concepts or their subcomponents.
  • Details: Evey term can be defined by its unique details or distinguishing features.
  • Negation: Define the term by explaining what it isn’t.
  • Origins and Causes: Describe the origins, historical context, and causes of a term or concept.
  • Results, Effects, and Uses: Define a term by describing its causes, results, effects, and potential applications.
  • Revise and proofread the essay: This is the final step, where you go through the essay once it is completely written. Revising and proofreading your essay helps you correct errors and modify the content if something is off in the essay. 
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Interesting Definition Essay Topics

Here are some interesting definition essay topics for you to get started:

Definition essay on family

  • Early parenting: Advantages and disadvantages
  • Family values 
  • Family traditions followed in American society

Easy definition essay topics

  • Definition of beauty.
  • Analyze the characteristics of the male protagonist in Sense and Sensibility
  • Factors that propel a person to become compassionate
  • Define “frenemy” and explain how it is used
  • What are the distinguishing characteristics of royalty?

Definition Essay Ideas for Science & IT

  • Artificial intelligence
  • The World Wide Web / Internet
  • Computer data & information
  • The programming language of tomorrow
  • Different types of telecommunication

Definition essay writing tips

Here are some useful tips for writing a definition essay:

  • Select topics that you are familiar with.
  • If the selected term has several meanings, you must explain them all.
  • Use personal examples to illustrate the term.
  • Offer a variety of perspectives to back up the main points.
  • Define the term according to its historical context and use.
  • Include a reference list.


Overall, a definition essay explains a term, idea, or term in a detailed way, and with proper guidance, one can easily write this type of essay without any hitch. We hope this article provides sufficient information on writing a definition essay. You can follow the tips and steps given in this article to compose the essay.

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