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Extended Definition Essay Topics and more: Guide, Tips & Examples

You may be required to define a term in the form of an essay. Although such a task may seem easy, students often end up running out of ideas midway through their work because they lack experience on how to write a definition essay. This essay requires a proper analysis of the chosen term in detail. In the age of the Internet, different sources may provide a variety of information that may be confusing to you, especially on how to include information from the sources in your essay towards coming up with a logical piece of writing.

This article is a guide that can help you with tips and tricks on how to come up with a definition essay that will earn you good grades and impress your tutors. Also, it highlights definition essay topics of different kinds that college students may typically be asked to write about.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Key Considerations

A definition essay is a type of academic writing in which you explain the meaning of a term through a detailed description that is supported by clear facts and examples. When given this task, it is important to follow some essential steps that will be highlighted in this guide. A failure to follow a framework for writing is one of the most common reasons why students may end up earning low grades.

Students often fail to get a clear picture of the aspects tutors look for in definition essays. It is no wonder that a student may randomly look for sources online and jumble them up into a piece of writing leading to poor grades. Like other forms of academic writings, a definition essay requires proper planning before getting into the actual writing process. The steps below show how to start and write your paper.

  1. Choosing a topic. Most of the time, tutors give you topics to write about. However, if you get a rare chance of choosing a topic of your writing make sure you choose a term that is disputed, abstract and does not have a common meaning.
    It is better to write about special terms since it will allow you to analyze credible sources to create a detailed description. If you choose a common term, chances are that the sources you will find are flawed since they allow freedom of biased interpretation.
    We understand that you may face difficulties when choosing good definition essay topics. Thus, we have provided lists of the different kinds of topics in this guide.
  2. Look up the different definitions of the term in encyclopedias and dictionaries. From these sources, come up with a unique definition.
  3. The next stage is the writing process.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Step-by-Step

In this section, the article discusses several essential elements of the writing process from the creation of the outline, the actual writing process, and the best way to conclude your work and improve your grades.

Developing a definition essay outline

A definition essay is typically shorter than other academic essays although it could be longer if the term chosen is a complex one. Write down some of the strong points from your research that will form your discussion.

When you have all your points from the varied sources, it is time to write. The structure used is the common one:

Definition introduction

Your opening paragraph should contain the official definition as seen in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or scientific dictionary. However, care should be taken to avoid plagiarism. Use your own words.

You should then decide the perspective you would take when explaining your term. Depending on the type of term you may decide to discuss either the positive or negative side. This should come out clearly for readers.

Normally, a hook sentence would grab the attention of the reader as opposed to starting with a direct definition of the term. Some examples of hooks include a simile, metaphor, joke, fact, quote, statistics, anecdote or a dogma.

Some words such as ‘love’ are difficult to define concisely. In such a case, you can use different interpretations from your sources to describe the term.

Definition essay thesis statement

A definition essay takes the form of a standard thesis where it comes at the end of the paragraph. It is also the main argument of the author. However, there are instances when the thesis statement can be varied slightly.

For instance, when defining a term in various meanings, the thesis statement should be the unique meaning you have created having studied the various sources. Despite the kind of thesis statement, it should have basic features outlined below:

  • At maximum, two sentences long
  • Straight to the point
  • Clear
  • Concise

A typical example of a thesis statement:

“Racism is a global perception of discrimination and prejudice directed towards people from a different.”

Definition essay body paragraphs

In the thesis statement, you often highlight aspects that explain your chosen term. You can then support these aspects in the body paragraphs. There should be 2-3 paragraphs where:

  • The 1st paragraph supports the first aspect of the term
  • The 2nd paragraph supports the second aspect. The supporting details should be facts and/or examples.
  • The 3rd paragraph may contain other meanings and personal interpretation.

Definition essay conclusion

The conclusion should not be fancy but rather summarize the meanings of the term. Always remember to restate the thesis statement and give your interpretation of the term.

Works Cited page

You should have a Works Cited page since most definitions essays take the MLA citation and referencing format. However, you may be asked to use other formats. In such situations, you can follow guides to the academic formatting styles, which are available online.

Edit and proofread

When editing, you remove grammatical mistakes and repetitions that may affect the flow of your definition essay. Always proofread your essay before submitting to remove any imprints or typos, and other mistakes that may have not been captured by your grammar checker.

5 Definition Essay Topics List with Brilliant Ideas

The guide has illustrated some of the important points to contemplate when writing a definition paper. Take a look of 50 brilliant definition essay topics divided into categories that make it easy for you to understand.

Good Topics for a Definition Essay

  1. Why is it that poor people find comfort in the way they live?
  2. Is hate the most destructive human feeling in the globe?
  3. What are the real characteristics of a good friend?
  4. Define the varied meanings of the term courage?
  5. Loyalty: Define this term in the context of Starbuck customer.
  6. Respect: Define this term in the context of your parents’ teachings.
  7. What constitutes beauty?
  8. Define love having in mind its endless, powerful, and eternal nature.
  9. What is success from the story of Mark Zuckerberg?
  10. Does God exist?

Definition Argument Essay Topics

  1. Creation: Why would it be introduced as a new discipline in schools?
  2. English as an official language in the United Kingdom.
  3. Using technological gadgets (smartphones, Ipads etc) in the classroom: Benefits and drawbacks.
  4. Cigarette smoking: physician’s definition of this social, economic, and psychological problem.
  5. Tests and examination cheating: explanation, effects, and control mechanism.
  6. Death penalty: explanation, advantages, and disadvantages.
  7. Racial segregation: definition, causal factors, and effects.
  8. Corporate social responsibility: explanation, employee contribution.
  9. Artificial intelligence: explanation, effects, and usage.
  10. What is the use of excessive police force?

Extended Definition Essay Topics

  1. The punishments used by caring parents.
  2. Compare hostility and friendship: explanations of the terms.
  3. Define laziness and highlight the various ways of overcoming it.
  4. Explain the medical symptoms related to loss of appetite.
  5. Define modesty and illustrate the factors that contribute to it.
  6. Right to privacy: Do the governments and federal agencies violate it?
  7. What is the meaning of generosity in the context of global philanthropic examples?
  8. What is freedom? Do Americans know its meaning?
  9. Is Buddhism a form of a cult?
  10. Who is a strong leader based on the contributions of renowned global personalities?

Definition Essay Topics for College

  1. Mobile apps and video games: can they be used in the learning process?
  2. Define freedom of choice in the context of anarchy, democracy, and music movements.
  3. What should impressive admission and application essays constitute?
  4. What is a college degree and how is it influential in the life of a graduate?
  5. Define the concept of platonic love from the perspective of the youth.
  6. What is the importance of a second language to a country?
  7. Define employee satisfaction and discuss factors that influence it.
  8. What is peer pressure and how does it affect college students?
  9. The impact of social media on education.
  10. Expound on good and evil in the context of societal behavior.

Easy Definition Essay Topics

  • Define male chauvinism as perceived by feminists.
  • Define and explain the different contemporary art movements.
  • What are repetition, alliteration, and assonance, as applied in literature?
  • What can be categorized as humanely in our day-to-day living?
  • Define and describe the anti-Semitism movement.
  • What factors contributed to a healthy emotional life?
  • What are the features of a good college roommate?
  • What characteristics are required in a graduate field expert?
  • What is confidence and how to people show it?
  • Define and explain attitude with regard to the behavior of students.
  • The list above shows some of the topics that result from the terms chosen. The following terms are those commonly used to create topics for a definition essay:

    • Intelligence
    • Confidence
    • Happiness
    • Enlightenment
    • Morale
    • Beauty
    • Hatred
    • Love
    • God
    • Religion
    • Marriage
    • Family
    • Success
    • Attitude
    • Individuality
    • Self-esteem
    • Independence
    • Social media
    • Politics
    • Modern art
    • Ambition
    • Racism
    • Optimism
    • Humor
    • Kindness

    You may use our examples as an inspiration to create your own essay. Picking the right topic is often confusing and difficult. Nevertheless, discussing what you like and are knowledgeable about can be fun.

    Definition Essay Topics Examples: Terms Explained

    The article has covered numerous topics and terms that students could use for their essays. Also, the guide has shown the procedures to follow in the writing process. You could be wondering how such an essay looks like. Having provided you with a guide, it is only significant to give examples to help you out. Below are examples of definition essay example topics to help you get a general idea of the way your essay should look like:

    “Newton’s Third Law of Motion Assume you are applying a force on an object to move. The effect such a force has on the object is an opposite force of the same magnitude acting towards you. This is the principle of Newton’s Third Law of Motion…”

    In this definition, you realize that the scientific term is not explained as it directly appears in the dictionary or as it is directly stated by the theorist. This way, you avoid plagiarizing from the sources that you use. However, when using your own words be sure to sound scientific. Explaining scientific terms using common language can come out as unprofessional.

    “Imagine molding a huge ball from small pieces of clay. One thing comes out; fact that the small elements create the huge ball. This is the principle behind atoms. They are the fundamental pieces of matter that build up to create objects, humans included…”

    As seen in this case, the definition of the scientific terms makes use of common objects that the reader can identify with. This way, the essay does not become boring to the audience and they will find it interesting even if the explained scientific terms are not easy to understand. A definition essay can be easy to write. It can also be difficult when you have limited content to write about. Always ensure that you choose a term that has content to write about.

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