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How to Write a Definition Essay in 6 Easy Steps

August 27, 2015 - Posted to How to: Essay writing tips
How to Write a Definition Essay in 6 Easy Steps

How to Write a definition Essay

Step 1: Understanding the Assignment

Before you can begin, you must be able to answer the question ‘What is a definition essay?’ If you do not know the answer to this, it is an essay that explores the various meanings of a word, how the word is used, and why different people have adopted different definitions for the same word. To qualify as the subject of an extended definition essay, a word must be controversial in some way. You would not, for example, write a definition essay on the word house. There is no real conflict on what a house is. It is a permanent structure in which people live. The word home, on the other hand, would be great for a definition essay. This is because the concept of home means different things to different people, and it evokes different emotional responses in people. It should be easy to come up with a few definition essay ideas, so let’s get started on the steps.

Step 2: How to Start a Definition Essay

In the introductory paragraph you want to introduce the word you will be exploring, and then explain why you selected the word that you did. You may wish to begin with the definition that would be most familiar with your readers, and then inform them that there is controversy over the definition of the word. You could also begin your essay with a few general sentences about words having different meanings in different cultures and regions. Then, introduce your word as one that fits into that category. Of course, you need to have a thesis. You can take a stand on the most accurate definition of the word for example.

Step 3: Writing your Body Paragraphs

To start your body paragraphs, consider researching the origin of the word. Once you present that to your readers, you can build upon that in the following paragraphs. The origin of the word will almost always give clues to the reasons why there are various definitions for the word.

Step 4: Explore the Reasons the Word Continues to be Controversial

First, who are the people who don’t agree on the meaning of the word, or who use the word in different ways? Is the difference regional, cultural, or generational? Is there a historical or cultural event impacting the variations in the way that the word is used?

Step 5: Explore the Impacts that the Controversy over the Definition of the Word might Have

Communication can be badly impacted if everybody is not on the same page about the use of a word. On a smaller level, this could result in conflicts between two people. On a greater level, using a word in a way that is unfamiliar to someone can result in offending somebody deeply or being accused of cultural insensitivity. Politicians for one must be very careful in their use of words, especially if they are not completely familiar with the local language customs.

Step 6: Wrapping up the Definition Essay

At the end of the essay, summarize the points that you have made about the various meanings of the word, the different uses of the word, the people who use the word, and also the potential for controversy. Then, use those points as a springboard for reminding readers why your thesis was correct.

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