Natural Therapies Institute

Professional ideas to improve your writing skills.

Essential tricks: how do you write a definition essay

A definition essay is one what explains a term. Some terms may have a concrete definition or something that is definite while others might have an abstract definition that is often contingent upon the point of view of the reader or writer.

So if you are tasked with writing a definition essay consider these three steps:

  1. Tell your reader what term you will define
  2. Offer clear and basic information
  3. Use supporting facts or examples that will be easily understood by the reader.

So now that you have those tips how do you go about selecting the definition for your essay?

Well you obviously have to understand the term you select before you can write about it. This means much more than reading the dictionary definition. Try and explain in a single sentence your understanding of the word. Limit the term before you start to write about. If you are going to write about the word “love” you need to take into account that English has only one word for a multitude of feelings unlike Greek which has a separate word for each type of love. Therefore you need to limit your definition to whichever type of love you suggest such as “first love” or “romantic love” or “platonic love”.

Once you have narrowed down the term you will define it is time for your thesis statement. This is where you identify the term you will define and offer the most basic definition. Once that is done it is up to you to create a definition. You can do this by:

  1. Explaining how something works or what something does. This is called defining by function.
  2. Telling how something is put together or organized. This is called defining by structure.
  3. Comparing a term to other terms in the same class and pointing out the differences. This is called defining by analysis.
  4. Explaining what a term does not mean. This is a distinction that can help a reader to better understand your term.

Use examples or facts or even an anecdote to help the reader better understand your definition. Do not use examples that fail to support your definition as this defeats the purpose. Remember that your job in writing this essay is to explain what the term means and then tell the readers whatever they need to better understand the meaning. Whatever you decide as your topic make sure it is something with which you are familiar or something that you are interested in.