Definition Essay: The Complete Guide with Essay Topics and Examples

access_timeMarch 22, 2018

Writing essays is an integral part of your school and college life and you can do nothing about it. The only thing you actually can do is try to make this process as simple as possible. You might think that becoming a better writer is something impossible because you either born with your natural writing talent or just can’t write good, there is no other way. But you are wrong. Writing is like cooking. Nobody expects you to cook a perfect cake if you do not know the recipe and did not practice before. It is a skill you have to develop, just like writing. In this post, we will learn how to write a good definition essay and make it as easy as it can get.

What is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a piece of writing where you have to write your own definition of a word. The definition must be well researched and supported by evidence. Also, it might be an explanation of what a certain term means. Some of them have literal, definite meanings like table, pencil, or chair. Some of them are abstract, like love, success, truth and depends on a person’s point of view.

You can write Definition Essay for a class or just try writing it to improve your English skills, make it something like a language challenge.

How to write a Definition Essay? Step by Step Guide

    • Pick a Word

Choosing a concept or idea is the main point in writing your essay. Choose a word that describes the concept or idea, for example, “Love”, “Hero”, “Truth”, “Hate”, etc. Make sure you completely understand the term you choose. Read a dictionary, but do not copy the definition from there, explain it in your own words. If your concepts are fairly open, then you can find your own definition based on experience, and then find sources to support your definitions.

    • Stay away from specific things and objects.

Try not to choose such objects like “pillow”, “shelf”, “cup”, because it can make the writing even harder. First of all, you simply just can’t write a lot about specific subjects and also, your essay will seem superficial and not shrewd enough.

    • Choose a word that you know.

Pick a word that you are familiar with and understand on a basic level. This way it will be much easier to write. For instance, you can choose a word “honor” because you know what that means, you have something to say about it, you know how it feels and you can apply it to your life.

    • Try to pick a word that has more than one meaning.

It would be better if you choose a word that has plural meanings, especially if this word would mean different things to different people. In this case you will have more to write about, you will have an opportunity to include your own personal understanding as well as interpretations of other people.

For instance, you can pick a word “love” because you know that there are a lot of different meanings to this word, each person understands and experiences it in his own unique way.

    • Find the word in the dictionary.

Every word has its official meaning which you can find in the dictionary. Familiarize yourself with it. Take a closer look at the structure of the definition.

    • Study the origin of the word.

Research the word in encyclopedias, find out where it came from, study any theories and ideas about this word. Also, if you pick a word from law field, for example, then research this word in certain law encyclopedias.

    • Go online.

You can find a lot of information about words nowadays, all you need is an Internet connection. There are many scholarly or academic articles, blog posts, essays and articles. Moreover, there are many videos made by smart people who have already deeply researched many words and now sharing their knowledge.

    • Ask your friends and family about the word.

It is important to get your own perspective on the word and to do that you can talk to your friends and family and ask them something like “what this word means to your”, “what is the first thing you think about when you hear this word” or “what do you feel when you hear this word” and so on. Record all the answers and then use them as your sources.

  • Come up with your own definition.

Write down your own definition of the word using the data from your research and experiences.

Definition Essay Outline

The essay outline should briefly summarize the content of your essay and organize it in an easy-to-understand and coherent manner. Writing a short draft is very effective, and some teachers even require students to submit drafts to make sure that they have written the essay themselves. Definition essay outline as usually consists of the traditional intro – body paragraphs – conclusion format.

Essay Editors that may help

There is a basic sample of how to do this:


In the introduction, you have to let your readers know what this paper is going to be about. In the definition essay, the main goal of introduction is to give your readers two definitions – “standard” one and thesis one. Standard definition is the one you will find in the dictionary. The thesis definition will be a bit different from the dictionary one, so it is important to give your readers a starting point in regards to the term, to make everything clear.

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement in the definition essay is a combination of what this term actually means with your own personal understanding. Do not write too much in this section, though, save some for the body paragraphs. Also, do not use such phrases like “is where” and “is when” when describing the word. In general, try to stay away from passive phrases involving the word “is”.

Body Paragraphs

This is the largest part of your essay. Here you have to define core parts of the term and put them into organized sections. Use the data from your research, such as the history of the word and its variations and break it down into parts.


As usual, in concluding section you have to sum up the main points of your argument but in different words. Also, make your ending interesting and deep, show how this term impacts your life and finish with giving your reader a sense of purpose.



  • Attention-catcher
  • Briefly tell about the term you are going to talk about
  • Thesis statement

Body paragraphs

  • Body Paragraph 1: History and Origin of the Word.
  • Body Paragraph 2: Complete dictionary explanation and use of the Word.
  • Body Paragraph 3: Personal definition created from your experience.


  • Restate the thesis statement in different words
  • Summarize the main key pieces of evidence
  • Final closing sentence

Definition Essay Topics

Good Definition Essay Topics

  1. What is Love?
  2. What is Wisdom?
  3. Define What Makes a “Good” Friend?
  4. Define Success
  5. Define “Beauty”
  6. Talk about Solitude
  7. What Smart Means to You?
  8. What does it mean to be a Good Person?
  9. What makes a Good Leadership?
  10. What Makes a Great Friend?
  11. What Scholar Means to You?
  12. What is Loneliness?

Definition Essay Examples

Sometimes people just cannot start writing their essay without looking at a complete example of somebody else, seeing the structure and how it is written. Yes, sometimes students need some extra inspiration to start their own work and that is fine. Thankfully, nowadays you can easily find many sample papers, moreover, here is one for you right now.

Essay Help

I hope this article was useful for you and now your essay writing skills are better than they were. So, I am coming to you with the last piece of advice. Here are my top 4 useful resources, which will help you to make your essay writing game even stronger.

  1. Essay Topic Generator. The topic is the smallest part of your essay, but this is the first thing people see and it is important. But picking an interesting and catchy topic for your essay might be a real struggle. I feel your pain and I am here to save you. Use this site and create the coolest topics ever.
  2. Essay Examples. As I have already said, essay examples are good “friends” of pretty much every student. Take a look, get inspired and go write your own great essay. Remember, that these are just for looking and not taking. I know it might be tempting, but be sure that your teacher will find out the truth.
  3. Essay Checker. One of the most important steps in writing an essay is checking it for grammar mistakes, structure, overall completeness. If you are not sure you can do it by yourself – this site is just for you.

Essay Editing Service. If you checked your essay, but still have doubts, use this site and forget about sleepless nights. These guys know their job, they will make your essay look polished and in its best form

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