Definition Essay: Basic Components and Interesting Topics

Imagine the situation when you stumble upon a new, unfamiliar word. It may denote anything connected with your studies or work. A definition essay allows you to explore the meaning of this word and expand your vocabulary. This expert article contains creative definition essay topics and some great definition essay examples, which will help you better understand this sort of writing. If you find it hard to compose a definition essay, a professional online writing service will assist you in accomplishing this assignment.

What Is a Definition Essay?

An essay of this type represents an academic paper that explains what a particular term means. Its length should be no less than half of a page. While dictionaries offer only brief explanations of words, a definition essay provides a thorough and lengthy description of the selected term.

Choosing the right word is an essential step in writing a paper of this type. Experts recommend selecting a complex word that refers to one of the following groups:

  • abstract;
  • special;
  • with several meanings;
  • disputed.

It is not a good idea to define words with narrow, concrete meanings, such as 'glass', 'bread', or 'a book'. Choose something broad instead, like 'beauty', 'happiness', or 'freedom'. Initially, you should provide an academic explanation of the word. Following that, it is important to include personal interpretation of the concept and add suitable examples from personal experience. Most students do not have troubles with writing a definition essay. The reasons are as follows. First, it is significantly shorter than other types of papers. Second, it has a single objective – to interpret the term. Third, it does not require constructing an argument.

Steps to Writing a Good Definition Essay

Start with choosing a right topic. Note that you will never receive a high grade, if your selected concept requires only several sentences to explain its meaning. Therefore, it is reasonable to choose a word with complex meaning, which has an interesting origin. A few sentences cannot fully describe a complex term that ordinarily demands many words to interpret it.

Here is a detailed description of definition essay's sections.

  1. Choose a particular word to define and introduce it to the intended audience.
  2. In order to learn a generally accepted definition of the chosen term, use primary sources, including encyclopedias, vocabularies, and dictionaries.
  3. Demonstrate your word in the introduction.
  4. Provide the detailed definition of the selected concept in 2-3 body paragraphs. Underline any common mistakes in understanding of the term.
  5. Select several vivid examples to illustrate the explanation of the concept.

Hints on How to Write a Definition Essay

If your teacher does not give you the list of possible words, start with exploring interesting topic ideas. Check out some hints that will allow you to make a right choice!

  • Choose your term wisely. It is impossible to write a good essay on a word with a single definition.
  • Focus on terms with multiple meanings.
  • Ignore universal words that exist in every culture, such as "a telephone" or "a cafe".
  • Is the definition of the word understandable? If not, you should find another one.
  • Explore the origin of the selected term.
  • Use Oxford Dictionary to find the definition of the word.

Appropriate Structure of a Definition Essay

Now, you can learn basic elements of a definition essay, which will help you easily create this type of paper.

Developing a Definition Essay Outline

Although a definition essay is not long, it has an outline. This type of paper should a dhere to the following structure:

  • introduction with a clear thesis statement;
  • several body paragraphs;
  • concluding paragraph;
  • list of sources.


The definition essay introduction must include an academic explanation of the chosen term, which can be found in English-English dictionaries. If you want to begin your essay effectively, use a hook to open the introductory paragraph. A hook implies an effective sentence aimed at grabbing reader's attention. It may comprise:

  • statistics;
  • literary quote;
  • simile;
  • fact;
  • joke;
  • anecdote;
  • metaphor;
  • famous people quotations.

A thesis statement represents the main argument of the definition essay, which is in the end of introductory paragraph. It ordinarily identifies the term and explains what the word means. Select the most accurate meaning provided in the dictionary. Keep in mind that the definition of the word should be:

  • clear;
  • concise;
  • not exceed 2 sentences.

A Body of an Essay

A body of a definition essay should adhere to the structure below.

  1. Present the first element of the definition.
  2. Include another aspect of the term and add good supporting examples.
  3. If the word has multiple meanings, provide a definition for each of them. Thus, you will create a typical 5-paragraph definition essay

In addition, the body must comprise:

  • origin and history;
  • complete academic explanation;
  • your own interpretation.


A concluding paragraph of the definition essay summarizes different meanings of the same concept. A good idea is to describe how a specific term influences your life as well as restate the thesis and the hook sentence.

Helpful Definition Essay Example

Now, check out the following example that will help you understand how to start your essay.

Newton's Law of Gravity Kepler's laws could not explain precisely how planets move and live, which encouraged Newton to formulate other interpretations of the Solar System's work.


This expert article contains several categories of excellent definition essay topics, which will help you select the most interesting concept.

Topics for a College Definition Essay

  1. College degree: Why is it important in the student's life?
  2. A worthy job: factors that promote employee's satisfaction.
  3. A healthy lifestyle: the difference between positive and negative habits.
  4. Why people learn a second language.
  5. Key factors that predict a happy marriage.

Topics for a Definition Argument Essay

  1. Factors that entail the racial segregation in America.
  2. Creationism: should students study it at school?
  3. Tobacco smoking: the definition of the issue.
  4. Mass shootings: causes & prevention strategies.
  5. Using electronic devices in class: pros & cons.

Topics for an Extended Definition Essay

  1. Do Americans know what freedom is?
  2. Generosity: what qualities generous people possess.
  3. Laziness: how to get rid of this bad habit.
  4. A bad coach: possible consequences of inadequate training.
  5. Five qualities of a modest person.

Creative Topics for a Definition Essay

  1. The eternal feeling of love.
  2. The difference between beauty and ugliness.
  3. The meaning of courage.
  4. The feeling of hate: does it possess a destructive power?
  5. How your granny defines respect.

'Happiness' Definition Essay

  1. Can money ensure happiness?
  2. Biological, psychological, and religious basis of happiness.
  3. The best description of happiness.
  4. How different people define the feeling of happiness.
  5. What happiness means to the modern adolescents.

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'Freedom' Definition Essay

  1. What freedom means to a first-year college student.
  2. How the Constitution of the United States explains freedom.
  3. How the American government should define freedom.
  4. The essence of freedom in the United States.
  5. The connection between being free and been happy.

'Family' Definition Essay

  1. Interpretations of "family" discovered in different dictionaries.
  2. How to spend an unforgettable vacation with a family.
  3. The importance of family in the human life.
  4. Can we say that single-parent families are complete?
  5. The impact of the same-gender families on the institution of marriage

'Love' Definition Essay

  1. Love is an unexplored feeling.
  2. The typical qualities of love.
  3. How Oxford Dictionary explains love.
  4. What love means to your parents.
  5. Can man and woman experience mutual love forever?

Easy Topics for a Definition Essay

  1. Define movements in contemporary art.
  2. Key factors that improve a person's emotional health.
  3. Controversial world religions.
  4. Traits that a qualified university professor should possess.
  5. Define the terms: alliteration, onomatopoeia, and assonance.

Interesting Topics for a Definition Essay

  1. Teamwork: how a person can contribute to the common goal.
  2. Factors that provoke depression in adolescents.
  3. What traits a good person should possess.
  4. What 'a dream career' means to you.
  5. The qualities of a successful person.

You have learned the most creative topics for a definition essay. Choose the term that interests you. Try to avoid common mistakes when writing this type of paper. If you face difficulties in performing this task, do not hesitate to turn to online writing services for help!

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