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Writing a Definition Essay

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Michelle Lopez

on 16 September 2016

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Transcript of Writing a Definition Essay

Writing a Definition Essay
Example Strategy
Example Strategy:
Use specific examples to help the reader understand your definition. These examples can come from text, and non-print text.

Example: "Romeo and Juliet loved each other very much. Their love was so strong it showed their two families how wrong their feud was, and how silly it was to fight."

Questions to ask yourself:

What proof of Love have I seen in person?

What proof of love have I read about?

What proof of love have I seen on TV/NEWS/Movies?
Function Strategy
Function Strategy: demonstrates how the concept functions in the real world.

i.e: "Love pieces together hope and brings families together."

Questions to ask yourself:

What kinds of things does (Love) do?

How does it help people?

Who does it help?
Strategies for writing a definition essay
1. Function Strategy
2. Example Strategy
3. Negation Strategy
What is a Definition Essay?
Writing that explains, or defines what a topic means...
An example of a definition essay prompt
would be: "Define Heroism" or "What is love?"

Abstract ideas
Terms or concepts that are
more difficult to define
have different meanings

People may have different ideas or definitions of these kinds of terms:
love, friendship, honesty, courage, integrity, sportsmanship, gumption, peace of mind, team player, a sportsman, freedom of speech, common sense, ambition, success, honor...
1. Use of a dictionary definition ( denotation)
2. Symbolic meaning of a term or word (connotation).
3. Stipulation – individual definition of a term
4. Anecdote - narrating a personal story
5. Examples – from outside sources
6. Negation – what the term is not.
7. Historical definition – what the term has meant in the past; one may compare it to what the term means today.

When writing a Definition essay you may use a multitude of tools:
The following slides will provide an example of how one might write a definition essay on the abstract term love, using the tools we just learned.
Dictionary Definition
The dictionary defines love as, "an intense feeling of deep affection".
Symbolic Meaning
individual definition of a term
Historical Examples
Anecdotal Examples
From Outside Source
The love story between King Edward VIII and Mrs. Wallace Simpson

According to an article in the Huffington Post, King Edward abdicated the throne to marry the twice divorced American socialite Wallace Simpson. Their story is known as the "greatest love story of the 20th century."

What the term is not
Explain what Love is not...
Romeo & Juliet
Cleopatra & Marc Antony
Edward & Bella
A story from personal experience, either your own or about someone you know.
Historical Definition:
what the term has meant in the past; one may compare it to what the term means today
Negation Strategy: Explain what something is by showing what it is not. Using negation helps to contrast your definition with other's definitions.

Example: "Love is not jealousy or envy. Love knows no bounds of trust"

Questions to ask yourself:

What is the opposite of love?

What are some important things that love is NOT.

If I use this word to describe what love is NOT, will it help show what love is LIKE?
Negation Strategy
Each strategy is to be used for an entire body paragraph. You MUST include one body paragraph per each strategy. And of course, an introduction paragraph and a conclusion paragraph are required.
1. Introduction Paragraph (with a thesis)

2. Function Paragraph

3. Example Paragraph

4. Negation Paragraph

5. Conclusion Paragraph (restate thesis)
Sample Outline
Construct a basic definition and extend it
Thesis Statement
For Example:
By definition, a farmer is someone who tills soil for a living, but I define a true farmer by his relationship with the land.
This thesis is a good one
it extends the term in an interesting way
the reader may or may not agree with it at first.
This makes for a more interesting essay.
Specify additional characteristics that set your subject apart.
a farmer is a born optimist. He plants his crops with no assurance that nature will cooperate or that markets will be favorable.
a farmer is independent. Unions have found it impossible to organize them.

By ascribing interesting or controversial characteristics like these you can go well beyond the basic definition.

By describing his attitude you give character
Use Synonyms
By substituting a more familiar word for the term you are defining, the reader will be more likely to understand and accept your definition.
If you are defining the term "Blog" for those unfamiliar with the internet you could use electronic diary or journal.
Examples – from outside sources
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