Definition The Patterns of Paragraph and Essay Development
Definition A definition paragraph/essay defines a word, term, or concept in depth by providing a personal commentary on what the specific subject means. It provides a personal, extended definition of such terms by linking or comparing the term to a previous definition and by illustrating how that term should be applied. Definition paragraphs/essays are compositions whose aim is to convey the writer's understanding of what is included in and excluded from the meaning of an expression.
A definition paragraph/essay is used to clarify, define, and explain concepts, items, and terms. Although some description about the topic is used, you must explain what the topic is and what it means to make a complete essay. A definition essay is an extended definition that goes beyond what is in a dictionary and describes meanings.
When you write a definition essay . . .
your main purpose is to explain to your readers your understanding of a key term or concept
your secondary purpose is to persuade them that your definition is a legitimate one
Elements of a Definition Essay
Questions to Consider
What is the object or concept I want to define?
What general category does the subject fall into?
What distinguishing characteristics does it have?
Can I compare it to something similar to help define it?
Can I explain it by saying what it is not?
Why am I defining this subject and for what purpose?
What do I want my readers to learn or understand?
How to Write a Definition Essay In this essay, you may draw on various techniques you’ve learned to broaden your definition of your topic. For instance, you might:
DESCRIBE your term
COMPARE OR CONTRAST your term to another term
explain the CAUSE or EFFECTS of your term
explain how your term came to be (think PROCESS)
Setting up the definition essay Select a subject carefully. Since such essays are personal in nature, select your subject based on your own need to clarify the term. Select a term or subject that you know well enough so that you can provide specific examples to illustrate your definition. Don’t select a subject either too broad or too narrow to fit the parameters of your essay.
Introduction: In your introduction you should note your own definition which will be the thesis statement of your definition essay. You may also include general definition which you can find in a dictionary. Do not make your introduction too broad, try to be precise. Body: In your definition essay body you are to provide arguments to support your thesis statement. In this part you express your opinion and ideas on some concept. Remember that each paragraph should introduce one argument or idea.
Conclusion: Your definition essay conclusion should summarize the whole work. Of course, it will be very similar with the thesis statement. Bibliography: When you write a definition essay, as a rule, you do not need some numerous sources. You may need only a dictionary to refer to generally accepted definition. However, referencing is quite optional for a definition essay.
Revising MEANINGS Have you explored your subject fully, turning up both its obvious and its not-so-obvious meanings? METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT Have you used an appropriate range of other methods to develop your subject? THESIS Have you focused your definition and kept within that focus, drawing clear boundaries around your subject? EVIDENCE Is your definition specific? Do examples, anecdotes, and concrete details both pin the subject down and make it vivid for readers? UNITY Do all paragraphs focus on your thesis, and do individual paragraphs or groups of paragraphs focus on parts of your definition?