The Definition Essay

October 31, 2019 The Different Types of Essays

Essays are probably the most common assignment for students in colleges and universities, be it a research paper, book report or some other essay paper. Despite the fact that the process is the same, to write on the subject of a particular theme or topic, there are many types and styles of essays, and knowing what is expected when a particular type or style of essay is assigned is a key aspect of academic success.


The definition essay is exactly what it seems to be – an essay that provides a definition of a concept or word. This doesn’t mean that a definition essay is simple, short, or easy to write, rather, it is typically a fairly complex paper, longer and subjective instead of a simple and objective definition that you’d see in a dictionary. A successful definition essay draws on your own beliefs, views, and experiences and is well supported with personal anecdotes. As well, a definition essay will make use of comparisons to analogous terms, and point to contrasts with contradictory ideas. The assigned word or concept could be something real and tangible, such as earth or house, or it may be something abstract like peace or home.


Before you start writing your definition essay, it is necessary to know what the word or concept means not just to you personally, but the formal definition as well, in order to convey your meaning to the reader without confusion. You will find a basic framework with a dictionary definition, but you must also define the word or concept more personally. This can be done with a personal example or anecdote, something that will engage the reader and will prevent your essay from becoming a simple, dry and factual recital. If you open your essay with a personal definition, you can hook your reader before progressing into a more formal exploration of the word or concept. Providing supporting examples and information will result in a comprehensive and thorough definition that your reader will be able to understand and relate to.