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A definition essay is a form of writing whereby a writer presents information about a particular term to an audience. In other words, these essays describe a term or concept in an easy way for people to understand the meaning.

Why is a definition essay so important?

Definition essays are important because they enhance our understanding of terms or concepts by providing clear and detailed meanings. Contexts and situations may result in varying meanings of the same term. Thus, definition essays take into consideration such variations with the aim of establishing a suitable explanation that makes the term understandable for all.

Some of the reasons why writing a definition essay are important include:

  • It helps the readers understand the concept or idea beyond the regular definition.
  • It provides an easy way to solve any mystery that might exist in a satiation where a name, phrase, or concept has different meanings.
  • It teaches readers the different approaches or interpretations that are acceptable when discussing the term, idea, or concept.

Steps to follow when writing a definition essay

Typically, the instructor will provide a term for which you will be required to write a definition essay. However, if you have to pick the word by yourself, then choosing the term to define becomes a critical decision.

The following steps will guide you from the beginning to the end of writing your definition essay.

Choose a definition

When you have a choice to select a term for your definition essay, you should know that concentrating more on the term and its meaning is not enough. To make your definition essay come out well, pick a term that is commonly used and lacks a specific and common interpretation. I will demonstrate this with an example of “success” as my term to define.

Research different sources for the term

This should involve locating an array of definitions of the term from the dictionary and various sources on the internet. It is easy to find lots of information on the internet these days. Again, you can ask friends and family members to provide you with different definitions of the term you are writing about to get a better insight.

Merge the definitions into a comprehensive essay

After gathering all the necessary information, organize them in such a way that they complement one another to produce a broader and common meaning. Use your own words and experiences to make the definition easy to understand. You will also need to include real-life examples to make readers relate the definition with everyday life, and perhaps what they have encountered too. Lastly, keep your sentences short, clear, and precise because the goal of a definition essay, as stated earlier, is to make the term understandable to all readers. This way, you will score a high grade.

What makes a definition essay strong?

A definition essay can potentially be enhanced by observing the following before, during, and after writing.

Understand the term

Understanding the term first will make it easy for ideas to flow when you start writing. You will find it simple to organize your thoughts, ideas, and words when you already have good knowledge and understanding of the term than when you are struggling to understand it. So, make a point of gathering a lot of information to help you understand the term before you begin to write.

Provide personal interpretation

Your definition essay will attract the audience more if you provide a personal interpretation of the concept. As much as you are required to conduct research, the interpretation of what you obtain from the research is what counts as a good definition. If you recite the definitions from the sources and just change a few words, the essay will not be strong. Instead, you need to include your insight of the term in a way that will make it detailed yet similar in meaning from the original source.

Support with relatable and practical examples

Using practical examples that people can relate will most definitely make your essay understandable. Remember, you are trying to provide an easy way for the audience to understand a term and this can be done by allowing them to visualize what they are conversant with. For example, in my sample essay defining success, I provided this example: “To demonstrate that success is just a level of accomplishment and satisfaction, consider a team that plays for the first time in the World Cup and loses the competition in the semi-finals stage. Such a team can be considered successful despite failing to win the Cup because the level of its accomplishment is way above the initial expectations and the team’s standards.” Here, I can confidently say that this example is relatable and practical because almost everyone knows about the world cup and how the competition goes.

Show how the term you define differs in different contexts

No matter the topic for your definition essay, there will always be more than a single definition due to its application in different contexts. Ensure that you exhaust the contexts for that term and clearly show how they make the term appear different. For example, if you are talking about success, mention how it is different depending on contexts such as where one comes from, their competitors, and their beliefs.

Use smooth transitions in your essay

Transition phrases and words help to connect one sentence with the next. They are best used in writing to ensure there is a flow in the written work. Using transitions helps you connect one logical idea with the next, indicate some of the significant relations throughout the essay, and also make it easy for the readers to read your work. Examples of transitions you can use in your work include; similarly, immediately, in addition, subsequently, finally, and more.

The structure and format of a definition essay


These types of essays give you a chance to explore various ways of starting the introduction. It could be through a quote, phrase or an open-ended question. Ensure there is a clear and precise thesis statement at the end of the introduction.


All your body paragraphs should be connected to the thesis statement. Use examples in your body paragraphs to ensure the reader understands more about the topic.


Restate your thesis statement and summarize the topic. Providing an overview of the essay and the major points discussed helps to link your readers to the body paragraphs.

Common mistakes to avoid

Everyone experiences a writer’s block from time to time or writes an academic essay that is not that perfect. Writing a bad essay not only affects your grade but also eats away your confidence. With definition essays, these are a few common mistakes students make that you should strive to avoid at all costs:

Wrong thesis statement

A thesis statement enables you to state what your essay will be all about and carefully put across your topic sentences. If you have a vague thesis statement, it becomes hard for the professor to see your point of view. Ask yourself if the claim is valid before proceeding to write the essay. Instead of making a simple sentence go deeper and ask yourself the “why and how” questions.

Selecting the wrong term

Unless the term or topic you are defining is provided by the professor, be sure to pick one that is easy to define. If the term or phrase is already provided, understand its meaning first before you start writing.

Failure to proofread your work

Many students do not know the benefits of rereading their work hours after writing and before submitting it. That is the ideal time to pock mistakes that you might not have noticed while writing. Read your work and ensure all the sentences make sense.


One of the worst academic mistakes is plagiarizing your work. Your professor will give you a hard time when caught. We are pretty sure you do not want to be that student, right? If it becomes hard to produce work that is non-plagiarized, then be sure to contact us for further assistance. Our team has been around long enough and are capable of providing error free and perfect work at an affordable fee.

30 Definition essay topics for students 2021

Just in case you are stuck with selecting a topic for your definition essay, here is a list of easy topics to choose from:

  • What is good mental health to you?
  • Cultural diversity
  • What does freedom mean to you?
  • Internet dating
  • What does the term marriage mean in your culture?
  • Best friends vs friends
  • Self-love
  • What is cloning?
  • What are ambitions?
  • How to get the best shot in photography
  • What is a college degree and what is its role?
  • Time management
  • Define poverty
  • Pro-life vs. pro-choice
  • Death penalty
  • Terrorism
  • Radicalization: why does it happen?
  • How can you best describe equality in our society?
  • Discuss the concept of taboos in your culture
  • What do you think is good governance?
  • Define Formula 1
  • Explain the effect of motorsport on young children
  • What is universal love?
  • Respect
  • College life
  • Expound on the concept of “great marriage”
  • Define communication
  • What is a healthy diet according to you?
  • The selfie era
  • Personality