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What makes a definition essay different from the other essay types?
An essay does a lot more than just test a student’s knowledge about a certain topic or their research skills in obtaining that knowledge. It goes a lot deeper than that. Most essays present a controversial topic or one that has several opposing solid points of view. The writer must choose a side and provide evidence supporting their decision. A definition essay has a little different twist.
Components of a definition essay
- It defines a concept, term or word in depth.
- It uses traditional definitions commonly accepted by the general population.
- It provides an extended definition which is personal to the writer, based on their life experiences.
- It should be centered on a word that can mean something different to someone else.
- It gives the reader an illustration or example in how the term should be applied.
Writing the definition essay
In writing this type of essay, make sure that the meaning of the word is disputable and that you don’t come up with exactly the same angle that everyone else would; this will result in a shallow essay that lacks depth and richness.
You should choose a word or term that you are somewhat familiar with. When you elaborate on the word you have chosen to define, your own knowledge base and experience will provide the foundation for your definition.
Beyond the dictionary definition
The dictionary definition is the starting point at which all readers can relate to the word and agree on its broad definition. But anyone can open a dictionary and read the definition of a word. You must take the reader much farther than this in your essay.
Sometimes using negative examples can help clarify a definition. This is especially useful for words whose meanings are often misunderstood or misused.
You must research the word’s origins and provide insight that is not given in the dictionary. Go another step and break the word up into various parts, analyzing each part and explaining how and why they fit together. At the appropriate time, present the meaning based on your life experiences and viewpoint. Use stories and vivid imagery to relate the word to your rich and personal definition.
Make sure to supply enough support as to why you have defined the word in this way, giving the reader something substantial and meaningful as the foundation of your definition.