Characteristics and Structure of Definition Essay with Examples & Topics

Definition essay is a type of essay that gives the complete meaning of a word or concept. It explains what a term means by defining it, giving its history and background, and everything necessary. A definition essay consists of three main parts: introduction, the body, and a conclusion. Introduction is the first part of a paragraph which gives the readers an idea about what is going to be explained about the topic. Next is the body or supporting details which forms the middle part of the paragraph. It explains the topic in full detail and gives all the necessary information related to the topic. Conclusion is the final paragraph which ties up everything that has been said together and summarises the main points from the topic. 

Definitions of Essay 

1. According to the Oxford Dictionary it is 

“a short piece of writing on a particular subject.”

2. According to Frederick Crews, an essay is

“a fairly brief piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way.”

3. Aldous Huxley, states that

“the essay is a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything” and divides essays into personal-biographical, objectively-factual, and abstract-universal.”

Characteristics of Definition Essay 

  • • A definition essay should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 
  • • The word should have a complex meaning which is disputable. 
  • • It should have a specific and focused definition. 
  • • A brief explanation of the term should be provided.
  • • Its goal is to define a term, an idea, or a concept. 
  • • The definition should be concrete and clear providing adequate information. 
  • • It must have well-structured body paragraphs. 
  • • The main focus of the essay should be on the term to be explained and it should be coherent. 

Topics for Writing a Definition Essay

Some topics for writing a definition essay are: 

  • • What is Secularism?
  • • What is the true meaning of friendship?
  • • Define patriotism. 
  • • What is Democracy?
  • • Define cyber bullying. 
  • • What is a millennial?

Ways to Define a Term 

There are several ways of defining a term. One can choose the approach that is most relevantfor their chosen word. The different approaches are:

• Denotation:

It is giving the dictionary meaning of a term.

• Connotation:

It is the meaning of a term beyond the dictionary definition.

• Comparison or analogy:

It is an approach that compares two similar notions.

• Enumeration:

It lists down all the meanings of the word.

• Negation:

This explains the term by contradiction, i.e., by explaining what it is not.