Definitive Essays
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Definitive Essays






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Definitive Essays Definitive Essays Presentation Transcript

  • Definitive Essays
    Expository Writing
  • Definition: Establishing Boundaries
    No rational argument, scientific theory, or philosophical position is possible without a precise definition of the terms involved.
    Where there is confusion about the meaning of key terms, such as the often-disputed idea of “feminism,” then communication can break down.
  • Many people, however, regard definitions as merely the subject matter of dictionaries to be used only in moments of complete bewilderment.
    Besides knowing how to write definitions, we need to understand their relevance to thought and communication.
  • Gendering
    When you define, you identify the features that distinguish a term, thereby establishing its boundaries, and separating it from all others.
    Knowing these features enables both you and your reader to use the term appropriately.
  • Essential Definitions
    An essential definition does 3 things:
    Names the item being defined
    Places it in a broad category
    Distinguishes it from other items in the category
    Take a look at the following example:
    Item Being Defined – a vacuum cleaner
    Broad Category – a household appliance
    Distinguishing Feature – uses suction to clean floors, carpets, and upholstery
  • Pitfalls of Essential Definitions
    There are limitations on essential definitions.
    Because they are brief, they can’t truly explain abstract terms such as cowardice, love, power, jealousy.
    Avoid overly broad or particularly narrow definitions.
    Be careful NOT to omit the main category. You can do this by naming the main category rather than using phrases like “is where” or “is when” in your definition.
    Beware of circular definitions which don’t really provide a definition. Which of these would best define a psychiatrist?
    “a physician who practices psychiatry” or
    “a physician who diagnoses and treats mental disorders”
  • Extended Definitions
    Sometimes, especially when defining abstract words, it is necessary to write a paragraph or even an essay to fully explain a term.
    For instance, new technical, social, and economic terms often require extended definitions.
    Extended definitions are montages of other methods of development – narration, description, process analysis, illustration, comparison, and cause and effect. It depends upon the term as to which methods of explanation you will select.
    You can also use negation to define a word by explaining what it does not mean.
  • Writing an Extended Definition
  • Works Cited
    Reinking, James A. and Robert von derOsten. Strategies for Successful Writing, Ninth Ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2011.