If you are a student, you will sooner or later be assigned with writing a definition essay. But what exactly is it? In this type of work students need to explain one specific term to their readers. What is the point of it? The thing is that there are a lot of terms that we do not understand correctly. It’s the task of this essay to give the correct definition and help us understand and use the term properly.
Definition essay meaning
Different types of written assignments have different goals. When it comes to a definition essay you have to provide a clear and, what is very important, a correct definition of a term. You are allowed use different methods to explain the meaning of your term. One of the most important things you have to be unique in terms of presentation of material and use interesting words and phrases to describe it. It is not acceptable using somebody else’s words.
Before you start explaining the meaning of the term to others you have to make sure you understand it correctly. Many terms are confusing or have implicit meaning, this is why you should be completely confident you will be able to provide a truthful definition.
If you want to make your essay complete and understandable follow these tips:
- Make sure the language you use is proper English – no mistakes are acceptable. If you use words pregnant with meanings, make grammatical or spelling mistakes, use improper tenses, there is a chance of leading your essay in a totally wrong direction.
- In everything you write you have to sound persuasive to assure your reader that the definition you provide is truthful and correct. If your audience ever doubts in your words your essay will turn into a trash. To avoid this be consistent at every stage of writing.
- Keep it simple and do not overload your text with different terms. Our goal is to explain the term meaning as simple as possible. Remember that you will be read by people of different level of education, not all of them will be able to understand difficult scientific text.
- Focus on the term you describe. Certainly, you will be using some other words and expressions in our writing, make sure you do not lose your main focus and do not mislead your audience.
Kinds of definition essays
You may be surprised but there is not one type of definition essays. There are several of them and you should be aware of them to be able to write your essay in the correct format. Normally, there are two subcategories of definitions – intentional and extensional.
- Intentional definitions describe the term when it is a part of a specific characteristic feature. For example, insects are one of the smallest kinds of animals with six legs – it means that any animal having six legs can be attributed to insects. It means that intentional definition describes an object with certain characteristic feature that belongs to the group of other objects with the same or similar features.
- Extensional definitions give a more generalized description of several objects that belong to the same group. These definitions are divided into:
- In an extensive definition it is possible to describe a term using illustrations. It means that you give a term certain illustrative description and let your reader know this description goes with this term. For example, a hyena is a greedy animal. Further in the text you can just call it a greedy one and the audience will know what you talk about.
- If you have several objects described by the same term you define them with the help of enumerate definitions.
Knowing different types of definition essays you will be able to write the correct essay using correct methods and structure.
What to begin with
Like in every other type of paper, the beginning of the definition essay is very important since it sets the first impression about the entire work. This is why you cannot let yourself mess up the beginning part.
The initial part of your essay is called introduction. This is where you do your best to catch the attention of your audience:
- Use simple language – do not begin with difficult terms and unclear expressions that may puzzle your reader of give the feeling of heaviness.
- Chose the words properly – every word you write should be clear to your reader and not have a lot of meanings to confuse the reader.
- Make sure you know how to give the definition to a form of an essay:
- Organize the material you have into a clear structure
- Analyze the term you work on and compare it with other similar terms.
- Use the functional role of the term to explain its meaning.
- You may want to use a method of presenting the meanings that your term does not have.
- Use vivid examples and illustrations for explaining the meaning of your term. Define your potential readers and see what illustrations will be best to use.
- Always base your essay on proved facts and not opinions.
- Use the term in practice – write a part of the text containing your term and let people understand its meaning from the context.
Structure of your definition essay
The generally accepted structure of essay consists of an intro part, body and conclusion.
In the introduction you should provide the meaning of the term you are working on. Introduction is followed by thesis – a very short summary of the things you will be talking about in the main part.
The main part, or else called the body, is the biggest part of the work where you provide the extensive material. It is usually divided into several paragraphs each of which serve for describing a separate aspect. In this case, the term you define may have several meanings, so you can devote the paragraphs of the body to these meanings.
The closing part of the essay is the conclusion where you give a short summary of everything you said above and emphasize the importance of your research.
Choosing a topic of your definition essay
Sometimes a student has two options – to be assigned the topic by the teacher or choose it. When choosing the topic for your essay, consider the following:
- Prefer terms with complex or several meanings thus you will be able to make your essay more interesting and stick to the necessary volume.
- Give preference to disputable terms the meaning of which is similar to other terms. This will let you describe several points of view.
- It is better choosing the term you know, this will let you provide a correct and understandable explanation.
- Refer to the origin of your term – in many cases it helps identifying its meaning.
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