A few tips to write a definition essay
In a definition essay, you should explain the meaning of a term via its detailed description. Then you have to prove or support your definition with convincing facts or reasoning. Such a procedure is essential for the terms, which are abstract, special or lacking common meaning. Among such terms are, for example, “tolerance” and “harassment”. Indeed individuals interpret them differently. Writing definition essays is quite a complex job so let us offer you a small guide on how to write a definition essay with a few steps that will simplify the task.
Steps for writing a definition essay
- First, you are to select a term to define, and introduce it to the readers. Such an introduction may be performed in different ways. The essential point here is to let the readers have a clear concept of the topic of your essay, that is the term you wish to define.
- Here you have to undertake a search for definitions of the selected term in various dictionaries and encyclopedias. Certainly, as all those definitions describe the same term, they have much in common. But in fact they seldom coincide. They differ in size, depth and in the emphasis each source makes for the term, depending on the source’s character and orientation. Now your task is to craft your own definition combining your material and having in mind your own criteria.
- In the introduction of your essay, you mission is to present the term to the readers. There are no strict regulations on how you should do it. What matters is that they have a clear outline of what you are going to define.
- In the main part, you provide the readers with a maximum amount of info on the term. Besides your descriptive content, you are welcome to highlight various examples of the term’s use in different contexts. It would be perfect of you to supply historical info on the term’s origin and the evolution of its use in the past until its present day meaning. And this is the right place to quote examples of a common incorrect usage of the term with your detailed explanations of the reasons of such mistakes.
- And finally you should present a few examples of the correct use of the term, which will serve as an illustration for your definition.
Every day we use a lot of terms. Many are quite clear to everybody, but there are plenty of terms that require definition either because they are complex or because their meaning is not so clear. They are mainly abstract words or words that belong to politics, science or spiritual life. Defining such terms is a demanding and creative job, as actually behind such terms are entire concepts and the author of the definition takes part in their development. As examples may serve such terms as “justice”, “supremacism”, ”freedom”, “leisure”, “affection” , “beauty”, “passion”, “offence”, “adoption” etc.
Consider the following points in writing a descriptive essay
- If you are to define a term, simple copying and merging its existing definitions won’t be a correct solution. Your definition must have an original content. Try to improvise with your own interpretation.
- Select a term that you perfectly understand and preferably have used in practice in its various meanings. Trying to define a term, which is not fully clear to you would not be a good idea at all, if you don’t understand the term yourself, your interpretation may be misleading.
- You can define a term both directly and indirectly. In the former case you explain its meaning, functions, and use. In the latter case you compare it with terms having a close meaning and specify the boundaries between the terms’ meanings. Both ways are quite promising.
- Let the definition be uniquely yours. That is not a fault, that’s fine. Being non-standard and creative won’t hurt! We can only encourage such an approach. Don’t be afraid to be creative in giving non-standard explanations—that approach should be encouraged.
- Dealing with terms with a very wide meaning, feel free to narrow them. Consider only one of the meanings and your work will become more feasible.
- Don’t forget about proofreading and having your essay revised. Proofreading is necessary as it almost always discovers errors in your work. And feedback both from experienced essay writers and common people like friends of yours is extremely useful as well.
- Don’t repeat the defined term in the definition itself. “Squirrel pox is a disease that” sounds way better than “Squirrel pox is a pox that”
Common mistakes to be avoided in a descriptive essay
– Trying to define a term that is too broad relative to the planned size for your essay.
– Describing well-known terms and terms having no alternative interpretations.
– Not using examples. Even the finest definition needs examples. Only with examples it can become perfect. Otherwise it may be too hard for the readers to interpret the term correctly and understand where they should use it.
– Copying an existing definition word-by-word. Instead, you should reinterpret its meaning. Be free to use your own approaches in defining the term.
-Forgetting to specify an important difference in use between your term and one with a close meaning. Explaining the differences in the use of such pairs is necessary for a sound and detailed definition.