How to Write a Definition Essay: Writing Guide with Sample Essays

How to write Definition Essay

Let us assume that you come across a term that is not familiar to you. The word you have come across could be interesting or not; you may also be familiar with the term or not. Suppose you are presented with such a situation. In that case, it is always best that you fulfill your list of vocabulary by gaining new knowledge through a different kind of academic writing known as the definition essay. This sort of writing will, without doubt, enlarge your list of vocabulary.

Definition essay

A definition essay is a rhetorical style of academic writing that uses various techniques to provide the reader with the meaning of a concept, idea, or term. In other words, it is a type of academic writing that entails a formal explanation of a particular name. Most definition essays are meant to describe a complex word with a historical origin and significant background. A definition essay is usually structured around the objective of defining an idea, concept, or term. Although you may begin your essay with a short dictionary definition, you will ultimately end up giving an extended description of the word. Writers having difficulties writing this kind of essay can always seek assistance from companies providing essay writing services. If you have never written such an essay, you may use a significant amount of your time trying to figure out how to structure your essay. In this article, you will be provided with all information regarding definition essays.

Apparently, most students will not understand why a person should write an entire essay filled with definitions. There is a significant difference between a simple definition and a definition essay paper. Whereas a definition usually is a simple explanation of a phenomenon, notion, or term, a definition essay, on the other hand, provides almost all possible definitions of a given term together with its connotative or denotative meaning.

Choosing a topic for your definition essay

Choosing the right topic for your definition essay is not an essay process, particularly if you are allowed to choose any topic of your choice. However, if you are already assigned a topic, the better for you since all you need to do is research and begin writing your paper. There are a couple of things you need to take into consideration when choosing your topic. Some of them include;

Brainstorming on the desired topic

If nothing is coming to your mind, consider going through the topics that are provided online

You can also think of a situation you have experienced or a topic you have discussed in class.

Write down 5-10 terms that interest you and settle on one.

Do the research and try to figure out whether there is enough information on the topic you have settled on

If your topic is broad, consider discussing only some definitions or collocations.

Definition essay topics

Now that you have a good understanding of the meaning of a definition essay, it is time for you to choose your topic. When deciding on your topic, it is always important to settle on the one that will capture your readers’ attention. Your main objective should be to make the reader want to continue reading your essay. There are plenty of terms that people use daily. The majority of them are common terms, which are clear to most people. Others are scientific terms, which could also be used as essay topics. Here is a list of definition essays you can use to write your paper. Ensure you are not only familiar but also have an interest in the essay topic you choose. According to most students, selecting the best topic is always the most challenging part, but the process becomes easy when a person begins to write, particularly when a person is writing about something they are familiar with.

  • Humanity
  • Childhood
  • The relationship between love and emotions
  • University
  • Education
  • Degree
  • Humor
  • Skill
  • Teamwork
  • Christianity
  • History
  • Emotions
  • Childhood
  • Career
  • Religion
  • Ocean
  • Anger
  • Hate
  • Global warming
  • Desire
  • Love
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Anger
  • Businesswoman

Love definition essays

If you want to write anything revolving around love, consider trying out any of the following topics;

  • What is the meaning of love according to different people?
  • How do you explain love?
  • What is true love?
  • The philosophy of the term love
  • What do love and freedom mean to human beings?
  • What is your favourite novel about love?

Family definition essays
The following list of family definition essays will aid you to build impressive academic papers.

  • What is an ideal family, according to American history?
  • Which kind of family is typical in society?
  • How to spend a vacation with your family?
  • The importance of family in the world
  • How does society view the concept of family?
  • What are family values?
  • How do you develop family values?
  • What are the factors that determine the institution of marriage?
  • How do you build a strong family?

Freedom definition essays

The historical evolution of freedom

  • How does a different culture define freedom?
  • How do people lose freedom?
  • What does it mean to have freedom?
  • How do you give a comprehensive definition of freedom?
  • What is religious freedom?
  • Why is freedom of speech important in modern society?

Happiness definition essay

If you cannot come up with the best topic for a happiness definition essay, you should consider trying the following;

  • What is the ideal definition of happiness?
  • Happiness in daily lives, how can a person feel it?
  • What is the philosophical definition of the word happiness?
  • What is the ideal definition of a happy life?
  • What is pseudo happiness?
  • Why do people have difficulty in differentiating true from pseudo happiness?

Extended definition essays

If you have difficulty in selecting a perfect topic for your definition essay, you may consider the following list;

  • What is leadership? How do you become an effective leader in modern society?
  • How do you obtain privacy in the modern world?
  • Who is a team player, and how do you identify them from a list of people?
  • How do you become a good parent? What skills should you develop in your children?
  • What is laziness, and why are people lazy?
  • What are the different types of addictions that people deal with?

Types of Definition essays

A definition essay is aimed at providing an explanation to the reader. There are three types of definitional essays an individual can write about. Each one of the essays has a main objective, which is to inform the reader. The three types of definition essays include; structural, functional, and analytical.

Functional definition essay

A functional definition essay analyses how various things work and thereafter provides the reader with information regarding what your topic serves. This paper aims at explaining how an element works. For instance, a person can write something like how a machine operates.

Structural definition essay

A structural definition essay analyses the organization of something. In other words, it discusses how a certain topic of paper has been organized; the introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, and flow of ideas.

Analytical definition essay

An analytical definition essay is centered on making comparisons. For instance, the writer can compare one topic to a different one and thereafter provide a detailed explanation of the similarities and differences.

Definition Essay Types
Definition Essay Types

Tips for writing excellent definition essays

The first step is deciding what you would like to discuss and, thereafter, introduce it to your readers. Although presenting the idea can be done in various ways, your primary objective should be to indicate your essay’s contents.

It is always advisable for the writer to use different sources such as the encyclopedia and dictionaries to get the actual meaning of terms. Thereafter, you can be creative and see how you could redefine the meaning of the words to give it a unique meaning.

You should present what you are going to discuss in your essay in the introduction part.

You should provide the readers with the definition of the term on the body paragraphs. As you provide your unique example, you could also state how the term is used in various situations, as well as the history of the word. Also, you can mention the common mistakes people make when defining the term.

Definition Essay Tips
Definition Essay Tips

Important things put into consideration

Writing a definition essay is not all about copying all the information provided in the dictionary. If you cannot write a definition using your own words, consider using the definition that already exists, but give it your different interpretation.

Always consider using words that you know or the ones which you have interacted with directly. You should avoid defining terms that you do not understand because they may give the reader the word meaning.

There are various ways you can use to define a term, such as through explaining its nature, structure, and function. You can also define a term by comparing it with other things that are found in the same category.

Always ensure that you follow a defined structure when writing your definition essay. You would generally present your term at the introduction, proceed and give your extended explanation in the body paragraphs, and finish with a brief conclusion.

How to develop a quality definition essay


Always create time

Not unless you are required to write a timed essay, you should always have plenty of time to do research for your essay. Developing good definition essays takes time and hence, an individual should plan their time wisely so as to avoid procrastinating.

Research first before you begin writing

Great research always forms a strong foundation for any academic work. Academic researchers believe that writing an essay while doing your research at the same time leads to the creation of content that lacks organization and focus. Before you begin writing your essay, always give yourself some time to research and organize your findings.

Plan and develop an outline

It goes without any reasonable doubt that the best-written essays are those which are written using an outline. To write an impressive definition essay, you need to have an outline. Planning will also aid you to avoid providing irrelevant information in your essay. Therefore, ensure that you have an outline before you start writing your essay.

Definition Essay Outline
Definition Essay Outline

Use clear and simple language

While writing your definition essay, avoid using complicated jargon or big words for the sake of sounding professional. Although your essay should simplify complicated terminologies, you should not use jargon in writing your paper.

Definition essay structure

Your definition essay structure should consist of an outline, the introduction, thesis statement, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. If you want to write a quality definition paper, you need to have a proper structure. The structure of your paper should be able to lead the reader from the introduction to the body paragraphs, and finally, the conclusion. You might be wondering, how do I create an outline of my definition essay? Similarly, like other academic papers such as argumentative essays, narrative essays, and case studies, you cannot write a quality academic paper without having a plan. Your paper’s outline should consist of an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Definition Essay Structure
Definition Essay Structure


Before you begin writing your interesting or informative introduction, you should ensure that you are familiar with a few writing rules. Several elements should be included in the introduction. To begin with, there should be a conventional explanation of what you are going to describe. In situations where you find out that the term you should describe has more than one different meaning, you should settle for the best definition and blend it with your personal view. Instead of starting with the definition of a term at the beginning of your paper, you could instead start with something catchy that will grab the readers’ attention.

Thesis statement

When it comes to writing definition papers, there is no regular way of writing it. This is because, as a writer, you should not prove anything. If you want to compose an impressive definition paper, you should blend your essay with your work’s primary assertion, particularly on the introduction.

The body of your essay

While writing your definition essay, you may create two or three body paragraphs depending on the complexity of your selected paragraph and the demands of your examiner. While writing your definition essay, your objective should be to provide all the relevant facts regarding a particular word. Some of the basic rules you need to follow when writing your body paragraphs are;

Every paragraph should contain a new idea.

If the word you are explaining contains more than one definition, describe each one of them.

Use relevant examples to support your definition.


Every type of academic writing should have a well-written conclusion. Your paper’s main objective should be to give the reader a well-described definition of a given term. Your conclusion should summarize the information you have presented in your entire paper together with your personal views.

Concluding remarks

Although the entire process of writing a definition essay may be time-consuming, tiring, and at times challenging, we hope that this article simplified the entire process for you. Students struggling to write their definition essays even after trying all the tips on the disposal can always seek assistance from companies providing essay writing services such as Peachy essay.






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