Panic (noun) 1. sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior
“A wave of panic washed over him as he realized he didn’t have a topic for his definition essay.”
If this definition applies to you right now, and you’re panicking because you have a paper due tomorrow (okay, so you’ve procrastinated just a little bit on this paper), take a deep breath. This post lists 20 definition essay topics to help you get started.
The Definition Essay Defined
The definition essay is deceptively simple. All you need to do is define a term or concept.
But a definition essay is more than a simple dictionary definition. A definition essay extends the definition by providing examples to help readers understand the term or concept being defined.
Let me say that again: a definition essay uses an extended example.
A definition essay is typically based on a single word or concept, so don’t chose an object like a dog or a potato. You don’t need an entire essay to define these types of objects. You can define them in a few sentences.
Instead, choose an abstract term that leaves room for interpretation.
For example, if you define happiness, readers can argue your definition because everyone defines happiness differently. Happiness to you might be a day sunbathing at the beach. Happiness to your roommate might be a day fishing on the river.
One last tip about choosing the right topic: choose a term or concept that you’re familiar with.
Don’t choose a word like quixotism from a word list just because it sounds cool and just might relate to Don Quixote. If all you have is a dictionary (or Wikipedia) definition to go on, you’ll struggle to write a definition essay about the term.
Now that you’re armed with a better understanding of a definition essay, you can move on to deciding on your definition essay topics.
20 Definition Essay Topics That Go Beyond the Obvious
Here is a list of 20 definition essays topics to help you write the perfect paper. Some of the items are linked to example essays to give you even more inspiration.
Think about being a senior with only months left before graduation. Think about not wanting to go to class, about wanting to skip all things resembling homework, and daydreams of what your future holds. What makes a senior fall victim to senioritis? Is it even real, or do people simply feel as though they should act this way before graduation?
2. The perfect shopping experience
Does the perfect shopping experience mean an afternoon trying on countless pairs of shoes? Does it mean finding a great bargain? Maybe the perfect shopping experience is being first in line for the new iPhone. Or maybe you hate to shop, so a perfect shopping experience means a few clicks, and packages arrive at your door in three days.
Would you say a college graduate is successful if he makes $50,000 per year? Does success mean that he needs to make $100,000 or more? Do you think money has nothing to do with success?
What if someone has failed many times? Can he or she still be successful? Can failure actually be a success story in disguise?
As you try to define laziness, keep in mind that this definition can vary greatly from one generation to the next. Do your grandparents have a completely different view of what it means to be lazy?
Maybe it’s your parents or your boss who has a different definition of lazy. I’m guessing that on at least one occasion in your life one of your parents uttered the phrase, “Don’t be so lazy!”
If someone is lazy, do they lack ambition? Maybe what some perceive as lazy isn’t even laziness at all. Perhaps they just have different priorities and didn’t bother to clean their room not because they’re lazy, but because they just don’t care about a spotless environment.
5. The American Dream
The definition of the American Dream has shifted over time. The current American Dream isn’t always a spouse of the opposite gender, a home, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence. While this definition certainly may be true for many, chances are others (like singles and childless couples) have a completely different definition of the American Dream. How does an American immigrant define the American Dream compared to a natural born citizen?
Anyone who has been in a relationship has a definition of cheating. Ever catch your significant other flirting with some old flame on Facebook? Is that cheating? (Most likely, the person doing the flirting will say “no.”)
Cheating doesn’t have to only refer to relationships. You might define cheating as it relates to academics. Does having your roommate “help” you write your paper mean you’re cheating?
Billy Rowlinson (flickr.com)
The definition of marriage changes by generation and by culture.
Today, the term marriage doesn’t necessarily mean only one man and one woman. Some might define marriage as inclusive of same-sex couples, and still others might define marriage as allowing for polygamist relationships. How do you define marriage?
Does a family have to be a mother, father, and child? Can a childless couple be a family? What role does extended family play in people’s lives?
In some cases, non-relatives, such as friends, stepparents, and mentors are considered family.
If a blood line isn’t necessarily the only criteria for being family, what characteristics or actions define a person as family?
Remember that guy who cut in front of you at the convenience store? Or how about that lady who bumped into you and didn’t even say “excuse me”? It’s pretty easy to think of examples of rude behavior in our society, so decide what you feel is rude and get to work defining it!
What makes a house a home? To some, home is always the place where you grew up. To others, home is where they’re living at the time.
But what makes a home so special? People usually feel calm, relaxed, and happy at home. Why is your own home more than just a place to live?
11. A good wife/girlfriend or husband/boyfriend
The definition of these terms are as varied as individuals. Ever meet your friend’s new significant other and wonder, “What does she see in him?” or “Why in the world would he want to date her?”
Your friend might feel he’s the perfect boyfriend because he always texts to see how she’s doing. You might think he’s too nosey or even too controlling.
Defining a good partner means you’ll have to decide what qualities a person must have in order to be right for you.
This is one of those grey-area terms (at least to many people). Does honesty mean telling the truth no matter what? If you hate your friend’s new haircut, do you tell her? If your friend’s girlfriend is cheating on him, do you say something? If you have knowledge of something and lie by omission, can you still be considered honest?
Do you respect your parents, your teachers, your significant other, and/or your friends? If you said “yes,” how can you prove it? What does it mean to show respect to someone? What type of actions demonstrate respect, and what makes someone deserving of respect?
Fashion is another one of those terms that varies with time. Remember that outfit you wore a few years ago for your school picture? I bet you wouldn’t be caught dead in that outfit today, right? Ever look at a picture of your mom or dad when they were teens and wonder who could ever think those haircuts were in style?
Of course, all of those things were fashionable at the time. Consider why fashion changes, who decides fashions, how fashion influences us, and how fashion makes us feel about ourselves.
Did you grow up sharing a room with your brother or sister and wish you had even a little bit of privacy? Have you yelled at someone for snooping through your phone or your computer? If so, these might be good places to start your discussion on privacy.
If you’re thinking of privacy on a larger scale, your discussion could include internet privacy or whether or not the government is trying to invade our privacy through monitoring of phone calls and emails.
Is beauty only skin deep? Sure outward appearance is the easy choice to describe someone’s beauty, but what about inner beauty? What does it mean to possess inner beauty?
Of course beauty doesn’t always apply to people. Beauty can apply to nature or even an inanimate object (like a car, a guitar, or even a new pair of shoes).
We’ve all heard those stories on TV about a guy who rescued someone. The neighborhood calls him a hero, but he declines the title, saying he just did what any other person would do. Military veterans are generally considered heroes, also, yet many feel they’re undeserving of the honor, too.
What characteristics do these type of people have in common? Bravery, honor, and selflessness are good places to start.
Which characteristics are inherently male or inherently female? Can you define someone as masculine or feminine simply based on appearances? Does a haircut or personal style make someone masculine or feminine?
Can masculinity or femininity be partially determined by voice and body language. Maybe you need to look beyond appearances and examine a person’s actions and character. Or, perhaps, you can’t define masculinity or femininity without examining all of these attributes.
Poverty is a relative term. If someone is uber rich, the middle class seems poor. To the middle class, minimum-wage workers are likely poor.
But what does it mean to live in poverty? Sure the government sets poverty thresholds, but is poverty simply measured by income?
Insomnia Cured Here (Flickr.com) Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, “The Wizard of Oz”, 1939
In The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion asks the Wizard for courage. Why does he feel courage is so important? What does it mean to be courageous?
Society often says that soldiers, those suffering illness, and those facing adversity are courageous. Think about what characteristics these people possess and how they demonstrate courage.
Turning a Definition into a Definition Essay
As you know, just because you have a definition essay topic and a few examples doesn’t mean you have an essay.
So where do you start?
Sometimes it’s easiest to start at the beginning and write the introduction first.
Your introduction should grab readers’ attention, so you might pick one of these example hooks to begin your paper. A clever, funny, or interesting story or example from your own experience is a tried and true strategy to get your readers interested.
Have lots of ideas for your introduction but are still stumped on where to go from there? Try outlining. Read How to Write a 5-Paragraph Essay Outline for more help.
Kibin editors are, by definition, amazing people who have savvy editing skills and will provide insightful tips and comments about your writing. Why not have an editor review your final paper?
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
Such paper begins with the explanation of a meaning of the selected word. Some words or other may have one particular meaning understood by everyone, but at the same time, there exist more abstract terms, which can be comprehended depending on the worldview of every single person. The above-mentioned type of essay needs to combine both academic and personal definitions of the chosen vocable. To reach such a harmonious combination, it is rather important to make the right choice of the term. The best definition essays are those that thoroughly elaborate on all possible word's meanings. Writing a definition essay is not so easy as might appear at first sight. However, keeping in mind several simple policy strokes will surely help you compose one of your most successful essays.
If you want to know how to write a good definition essay, you need to know that the correct choice of the appropriate vocable to define is already a half the battle, so that is what you need to start with. Here emerges the question as to how it could be done in the most efficient way. And the answer is not that simple.
The very first step is to choose the word with the abstract nature and complex meaning. This method will give you a lot of information to analyze. As usual, words-nouns, which denote a thing, a place or a person, may turn out to be very simple as for the college definition essay. Not to allow it, choose nouns that are connected to some idea – such option will work better. For instance, the word "hero" occurs to be understood by nearly all people in the same way. Taking this fact into consideration, the paper writing concerning this word may become tedious and uninteresting. In this case, it will be worth to pick something with more abstract meaning such as "heroism." "Heroism" is the concept involving the vast amount of elements, which, in their turn, have the chance to be properly explored in the paper.
Argumentativeness is one more feature peculiar for the right word, as the word itself has to mean something different to quite various persons. If your essay reflects the same point of view as it has the majority of people, then its depth will be lost, and its success will be found doubtful.
Choose the word that you can understand clearly. Of course, if you do not know its meaning, you can find it in the dictionary. The point here is that you should be armed with your own experience and knowledge while writing definition essay. For example, if you are not acquainted with the notions of some terms, your limited knowledge regarding it will not be to your credit.
Sometimes, it is even useful to read about the notion of the chosen term in the dictionary. This action will give you the possibility to compare your opinions concerning the concept with the general and official notion, provided in the dictionary. Such comparison's advantages lie in the fact that, although you have a lot of information regarding the concept, the dictionary notion may serve you in the capacity of the excellent starting point while coming up with ideas. The word's etymology research is also able to give you the perception of the word's origin and its path to the modern meaning.
Here are a few other tips for writing good definition essays:
- You need to make sure that the word has many meanings and it is rather disputable. It should mean different things to different people.
- Compare the complex and unfamiliar word with the familiar one. This one chosen term should be clear to the audience.
- You are welcome to use examples, which will surely help to describe the meaning of the word. If you’ve chosen an abstract concept, you will definitely need a good illustration.
Half of the work is done, and you have chosen your word. Now, it is time to organize the structure of your paper in a way to persuade a reader in its originality. Most of all, it is necessary to pay attention to the following details:
- The presentation of the official meaning. Your task here is to present your own comprehension of the term together with its dictionary meaning. Starting your paper with such introduction, you form the context and the basic information regarding the chosen term.
- The meaning of the term within the thesis statement. It is essential to remember that the thesis statement needs to be written in your own words; at the same time, it should stay basic and brief in order for you to expand it in the main body of the paper.
- It is advantageous to make a summary of the essay's main points. Your summary does not need to be deliberate. As a rule, to create the list of such points, it is enough to pick the topic sentences from every single body paragraph.
- As an option, you have the right to note in which way the notion has left its mark on your feelings. When you can admit that your chosen term is the echo of your past experience or life perturbations, you are welcome to do it.
- If you cannot find the proper term or just can’t structure the paper, and “Help me write my essay” is the only thing you think about, it is time to ask for professional assistance. Experts from our team will not only choose an interesting term to write about but also prepare a great essay from scratch. Although, if you decided to write the paper on your own, despite all the difficulties, the least we can do to help is provide you with some nice examples of definition essays. Thus, do not hesitate to ask the support team to send you some.
At first thought, it may seem that it is a very simple task to define one term. In a certain sense, such statement may be true, but only in the case when you need to write several lines and no more. The paper itself is something more than a few lines. It includes the whole complex of requirements that you have to take into account if you want to witness the success of your project.
There is no shame when you understand the necessity of help. Whether you need a descriptive essay help or definition essay help, Pro-Papers is ready to provide you with the best assistance possible. One way or another, you do not need to be afraid of ordering a custom work. Specialists from Pro-Papers always guarantee the high quality and plagiarism-free papers. The purchase from Pro-Papers is able to make your life a bit happier because you do not need to worry about your assignment anymore. If you have any questions concerning how the whole process goes, we are here for you online 24/7.
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