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The Definition Essay – 11 Great Topic Examples

January 27, 2016 - Posted to Writing

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11 Excellent Definition Essay Examples To Begin With

If you have never written a definition essay before, you may actually enjoy doing one. This assignment topic will require that you take an abstract term and prepare an entire essay in an attempt to define it. And lest you think that it will be pretty difficult to write an entire essay about a single term, think about this: How would a child, a teenager, a young adult and a senior citizen define friendship? Obviously, a definitions essay is somewhat personal, because your own beliefs, experiences and background affect how you define terms. And if you review definition essay examples that you find online, you will see that there are also persuasive and/or argumentative aspects of such an essay – a writer trying to convince a reader that his/her definition is correct. This blog post should help you – just consider it a brief definition essay writing tutorial.

Choose a Topic

You may receive a definition essay assignment in most any class. While you will certainly get at least one in an English comp class, but they are also popular in history, political science, science, psychology, and sociology classes. Even in a music class a definition essay example topic may be a definition of music itself.

When you are given such an assignment, you may not have the freedom to choose your own topic. But if you do, choose a term about which you have some strong feelings. You will do a better job if the topic excites you. In English class, an instructor may provide examples of definition essays to assist students with understanding the expectations. In other courses, this may not happen, because the focus is less on format and writing style and more on content. Once your topic is chosen, you may want to go online and review a few examples of a definition essay on that topic. While the authors’ views may not be your own, you will at least get an idea of format and development.

Before You Write

Every abstract term will have certain criteria or elements. Your job is to identify 3-4 elements that you believe are the most important in defining that term. Each of these elements will merit a paragraph in the body of your essay.

Structure of the Essay

The definition essay is developed just as any other essay you write. Your introduction will obviously introduce the term you area defining and present your thesis. That thesis may relate to the sub-topics/elements of your definition. You conclusion will repeat those elements and wrap up your thoughts.

A Possible Topic Example of a Definition Essay

The following is a list of possible topics for a definition essay. As you look through the list, perhaps you can choose among these essay topics – they are popular terms for such essays, probably because there is much to say about them.

  1. Honesty: does this term represent telling the whole truth all of the time? Can it ever be a situational term, when total truth is not a good thing? Can honesty also mean telling only partial truths?
  2. Peace: Does peace mean complete lack of conflict in any form? Can it refer to someone’s behavior in the face of conflict? How would peace be defined by the Dalai Lama, by an Army general, or by a harried mother?
  3. Success: Success may be defined differently by a variety of people – is it wealth; is it contentment; is it following one’s dreams?
  4. Happiness: Again, happiness is quite relative. You may either address three common definitions or present your own, and justify it.
  5. Family: Another loaded term. Does family only relate to blood relatives or can family mean others with whom individuals have become extremely close. This term has evolved over the years – what does it mean to you?
  6. Morality: Another term like honesty. Some people may have very strict and unyielding definitions based upon strong religious beliefs; others may see it as a more situational term. Is stealing food from a store to feed your hungry children immoral?
  7. Equality: this is a legal, societal, economic, political and judicial term. It is a fascinating topic.
  8. Freedom: Again, this is a politically charged term. Is it absolute or are there limits?
  9. Justice: What aspects of this word are most important to you? Revenge? Logical consequences? Can it ever be completely equally applied?
  10. Emotional Health: What constitutes mental health? Never having a meltdown? Never becoming angry and out of control? Or is it a broader term?
  11. Democracy: This term is defined very differently all over the world. What elements are most important to you?

Presenting a definition is one of the common college types of essay assignments. It usually does not take a large amount of research, and it will force you to engage in critical thinking and perhaps refine some of your thinking and values.

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