What is an “educated” person? Is it the same as “intelligent”? Or should we call “educated” only those with a college degree? A definition essay allows you to explore these questions and develop your own understanding of the word.
A definition essay is one of the easiest student assignments. Perhaps, the hardest part is coming up with the term to write about. We’re here to help you with it!
In this article, you will find:
- A description of the definition essay and appropriate terms for it.
- Plenty of topics for your inspiration.
- A writing guide and an essay example.
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A definition essay describes a concept or explains it. Its purpose is to find and clarify a unique meaning of your chosen term. When writing this type of paper, you should imagine explaining a concept to someone unfamiliar with it.
Here are several strategies you can use to define a word in your essay.
|🖼️||Example||Use examples from life, literature, movies, or other sources.|
|🚫||Negation||Clarifying what the concept is not can help you explain what it is.|
|🧩||Structure||Break the object into parts and describe each one.|
|⚙️||Function||Describe how it works, giving specific details.|
|📜||Background||Provide information about the history or evolution of the term.|
The strategies you choose depend on the concept and your writing prompt. In most cases, you will need to combine several techniques to write a good essay.
🔘 Words for a Definition Essay – How to Choose a Topic
Follow these recommendations to find a suitable term for your essay:
- Better choose complex and abstract concepts instead of simple words. Your definition should not be obvious to the reader at first glance. Your perfect word for a definition essay is a concept that can offer several meanings to explore.
- Avoid using nouns that refer to a specific place, person, or thing. If you choose something like “House,” your definition can be too evident and dull. But describing the concept of home will give you more space to evolve your thoughts.
- Begin your research with an explanatory dictionary. It will give you a general idea of the concept and show you ways of defining it. You can later develop a meaning different from that offered in your dictionary.
- Choose a word that means different things for various people or cultures. You can also look for words with intriguing origins or meaning changes.
🔝 Top 10 Definition Essay PromptsOur Experts can deliver
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Here are some exciting concepts that have endless opportunities to explore.
1. Freedom Definition Essay
The perception of freedom varies for different people at different stages of their lives. Some define it as the ability to move from one place to another. Others describe it as a complete freedom of action. You can also explore the freedom of speech and specify it to a particular country or historical context.
Freedom of choice is another perspective you can choose in your essay. You can contrast freedom using such words as imprisonment, slavery, restraints, limitation, or confinement. Consider narrowing your definition area to Internet freedom or freedom of expression.
2. Racism Definition Essay
The concept of racism comprises many terms and processes. For example, such notions as discrimination, violence, hatred, or prejudice can help you define racism. The historical background of racism might also vary depending on the countries or cultures you describe. You can also dive into psychological perspectives or social behavior.
Describing racism as a part of sociocultural changes is one of the ways you can define this concept. You should use more scientific terms in this case.
You can use bias as a broader concept and proceed to racial discrimination. Racism can be narrowed down to segregation, nativism, hierarchical ranking, xenophobia, otherness, and supremacism. Political, economic, and legal aspects are also inseparable from this discourse.
3. Hero Definition Essay
The concept of being a hero is somewhat controversial. People considered heroes in one country or culture can be villains in another one. In addition, every epoch dictates what a hero should be. Pop culture, historical context, and changes in human morality also define whether a person is a hero.
In addition, people might understand this concept based on their interests, values, life experiences, or vulnerabilities. Some might say that an Olympic champion is a hero, while others will vote for a person who saved a kitten from death.
In this type of essay, you can think of the person inspiring you the most. Your point of view might differ from that of your audience and, thus, arouse their interest.
4. Heroism Definition Essay
Heroism is typically associated with doing something outstanding and courageous. It usually involves risking one’s life or well-being and even sacrificing themselves.
You can provide a well-known example of heroism and explain its significance and impact on society. Draw parallels with self-sacrifice, the scale of heroism, and altruism. Antonyms can also help you define your understanding of heroism. You can pick something from this list: cowardice, fear, selfishness, or villainy.
Explore how the perception of heroism varies in different time frames, cultures, countries, etc. Make sure you can provide enough examples to support your thoughts.
5. Success Definition Essay
Success is another controversial concept that is a good choice for a definition essay. Before researching dictionaries and opinions, think of your understanding of success.
For some people, success means achieving their goals or exceeding their expectations. Others define success as internal satisfaction or happiness without binding it to material accomplishments.
People often evaluate their success by comparing themselves with others. Depending on the surrounding, equally rich and resourceful people can be successful or not. Besides, every generation defines success differently. Think about the attributes of success typical for certain groups of people.
6. Home Definition Essay
Typically, home is a place where you live. This concept is interesting for a definition essay because it has more meanings than it seems.
While a home is typically a house or apartment, some consider it a town, country, or specific area. This attitude is common among those who moved abroad.
Most people don’t live in the same place their whole life. So, the perception of home can change over time. Yet, some humans associate home with the place where they grew up. You can also explore the role of furniture, food, smell, people, and feelings in your definition of home.
7. Kindness Definition Essay
People usually associate kindness with such qualities as altruism, generosity, and friendliness toward others. In addition, it means doing something good without expecting anything in return. The most recognized acts of kindness are helping others, volunteering, and being supportive.
Kindness can be a person’s character trait as well. You can depict a genuinely kind person and provide some examples of kindness from your life, history, or fictional story.
You can also contrast this concept using related terms or antonyms. For example, you can explain how kindness differs from politeness, generosity, or empathy. As for antonyms, you can choose one of these: hatred, intolerance, greed, or meanness.
8. American Dream Definition Essay
The original definition of the American Dream comes from the US Declaration of Independence. It might differ from the modern perception of this concept and the evolved stereotypes. The Declaration only claims that “all men are created equal” and enjoy the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
American Dream is a set of beliefs that evolved over time. Most modern people define this concept as working hard to achieve their goals. Success and happiness became more materialistic as the idea changed. Wealth turned into an inseparable part of the American Dream in the mind of most Americans and even people outside of the country. You can describe the evolution of this concept and its significance to Americans.
9. Respect Definition Essay
Respect refers to holding someone or something in high esteem. To respect means to see something as valuable and honor it.
You can approach this term in several different ways:
- Describe how people show respect to others in different cultures. You can pick one culture or even a particular situation within this culture.
- Define respect for beliefs, traditions, or rules in society. For example, it can be obeying specific regulations in religious institutions, hospitals, or national parks.
- Explain respect in the corporate environment. Describe how professionals of different spheres show respect and appreciation.
Self-respect is another sub-term that can be a good topic for a definition essay. You can describe how it is similar to or different from self-esteem and how it influences human life.
10. Courage Definition Essay
And last but not least, courage. This concept is much broader than, for example, bravery or fearlessness.
There are 4 types of courage you can describe in your paper:
- Moral or civil courage. It is the ability to defend your values and beliefs in the face of strong opposition.
- Intellectual courage. It is the courage to confront existing knowledge with your research findings.
- Disciplined courage. It’s when a person can maintain focus and determination despite distractions and challenges.
- Empathetic courage. It is the strength to remain open and feel deeply for other people.
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Here is a list of definition essay titles for high school and college students:
- What is a successful partnership, in your opinion?
- White collar crime: Term definition.
- Define your understanding of creativity.
- What is the definition of service in the business environment?
- Identity theft: Definition, consequences, prevention.
- Explain how you understand sanity.
- Define the concept of cognitive bias.
- Renewable energy definition.
- How can you describe the concept of maturity?
- Explain your understanding of the mental disorder.
- A fallacy: Term definition and examples.
- What does having a status mean in your perception?
- How can you define morality?
- Global warming: Definition, causes, effects.
- How do you understand self-expression?
- Describe the activities of a trade union.
- Power generation definition.
- Explain your understanding of the word “business.”
- Define the concept of business partnership.
- Euthyphro Piety (Holiness) definitions.
- What is your definition of critical thinking?
- How would you define the Hippocratic Oath in modern healthcare?
- Project management definition and importance.
- Explain how you understand the concept of informed consent in medical treatment.
- Interracial adoption definition.
- Define the meaning of homeostasis in the human body.
- Sex and gender: Definition differences.
- What is evidence-based medicine?
- Define the concept of medical ethics.
- Strict scrutiny definition and conditions.
- Explain how you understand the term medication error.
- What is the definition of a placebo effect in healthcare?
- Police corruption: Definition and types.
- Define the concept of medical malpractice.
- What is the meaning of preventive medicine?
- Imperialism: Policy definition.
- Define the concept of patient autonomy in healthcare.
- What is the definition of metacognition in education?
- Community-based nursing: Definition and role.
- Define the concept of differentiated instruction in the classroom.
- What is student-centered learning?
- Immunoglobulin E: Definition and its role.
- Explain the idea of a flipped classroom in education.
- Marasmus: Definition, causes, epidemiology, symptoms, and treatment.
- What is the universal design for learning in a classroom setting?
- Stress: Definition, measurement, and factors of influence.
- What is inquiry-based learning?
- Explain the meaning of cooperative learning in education.
- Definition and dynamics of rape.
- Define the term “21st-century skills” in education.
- What is the definition of formative assessment in the classroom?
- Adult education: Definition and purpose.
- Explain how you understand the term religion.
- What is cognitive behavioral therapy?
- Collaborative reading: Term definition.
- Explain your understanding of the concept of neuroplasticity.
- Define resilience in the context of mental health.
- Dual enrollment: Definition and advantages.
- Explain the concept of attachment theory.
- Define post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Distance education: Term definition.
- What is the definition of positive psychology?
- Explain how you understand the concept of mindfulness.
- Definition and types of plagiarism.
- What is social psychology?
- Explain the concept of behavioral economics.
- The concept and definition of drafting.
- How can you define a financial crisis?
- Explain the definition of deflation in economics.
- Definition of the successful college experience.
🎒 Definition Essay Topics for High School
Here are our top definition essay topics for high school students. Pick your favorite one from the list below.
Definition Essay on Beauty
- What is the definition of beauty in the 21st century?
- Define beauty in terms of body image.
- Explain how you understand the concept of natural beauty.
- What are beauty standards?
- Define beauty in terms of race and ethnicity.
- What is the definition of physical beauty?
- Explain how you understand the concept of inner beauty.
- How can you define beauty in art?
- Define beauty in terms of fashion and trends.
- What is the definition of beauty according to popular culture?
- Explain how you understand the concept of global beauty.
- How can you define beauty in media?
- Define beauty in terms of gender roles.
- What is the definition of beauty in literature?
- Explain how you understand the concept of environmental beauty.
Friendship Definition Essay: Topics
- What is the definition of loyalty in friendship?
- Explain how you understand trust among friends.
- Define the concept of mutual support.
- What is the idea of friendly communication?
- How would you define respect among friends?
- What is the definition of caring in friendship?
- Explain how you understand the idea of mutual understanding.
- What is the concept of forgiveness in friendly relationships?
- Define compromise among friends.
- What is the definition of acceptance in friendship?
- Explain how you understand the concept of a friend’s reliability.
- What is the idea of kindness in friendly relationships?
- How would you define honesty among friends?
- Define the concept of loyalty in friendship.
- What is the definition of compassion toward a friend?
Definition Essay on Love: Topic Ideas
- Explain how you understand the concept of soulmates.
- What is unconditional love?
- Define sacrifice in the context of love.
- What is the meaning of falling in love?
- Define heartbreak and its role in love.
- How do you understand the concept of love for one’s child?
- What is the definition of love at first sight?
- What is dysfunctional love?
- Explain the concept of compassionate love.
- Define loyalty in terms of love.
- What is the meaning of enduring love?
- What is passionate love?
- Explain the concept of selfless love.
- What is the definition of unrequited love?
- Define forbidden love and its implications.
Family Definition Essay: Topics
- What is the definition of family loyalty in modern society?
- Explain how you understand the concept of family values.
- Define the meaning of family bonding.
- What is family support?
- Explain how you would define extended family.
- Define family traditions.
- What is the definition of a nuclear family in contemporary society?
- Explain how you understand the concept of a blended family.
- Define the meaning of family heritage.
- What is family unity?
- Explain your understanding of a single-parent family.
- Define a large family.
- What is the definition of a step-family in modern society?
- Explain how you understand the concept of an adopted family.
- Define the meaning of family resilience.
Happiness Definition Essay: Topics
- What is the definition of joy in contemporary culture?
- Explain how you understand contentment.
- Define pleasure in the context of human behavior.
- What is gratitude in psychology?
- Explain your understanding of peace in the 21st century.
- What is contentment in Buddhism?
- What is the definition of euphoria as a feeling?
- Define love and happiness in the context of relationships.
- What is optimism?
- Explain how you understand serenity in life.
- What is the definition of joyfulness in literature?
- Define joy in the context of the pursuit of happiness.
- What is contentment in relation to the quality of life?
- Explain how you understand fulfillment in terms of satisfaction.
- What is the definition of bliss in terms of spiritual enlightenment?
🎓 Definition Essay Topics for College
This selection of topics features more complex terms and issues for college students. Choose the concept you want to define in your paper from the topics below.
Definition Essay Ideas on Business
- What is a monopoly in economics?
- Strategic quality management definition.
- Explain how you understand the concept of fiscal policy.
- Define the term privatization in business.
- Definition of design thinking in business.
- What is the definition of a stock market in business?
- Explain your understanding of the concept of capital gains.
- Product life cycle: term definition.
- Define the term venture capital in economics.
- What is a recession in business?
- Supply chain management process definition.
- Explain how you understand the concept of fiscal deficit.
- Define the term inflation in economics.
- Organizational analysis: term definition.
- What is a supply chain?
- Explain your understanding of the concept of derivatives.
- Business plan: term definition.
- Define the term currency exchange in economics.
- What is the definition of a balance sheet in business?
- Market orientation: term definition.
- Explain how you understand the concept of liquidity.
- Define the term gross domestic product in economics.
- Business ethics: terms and definitions.
Definition of Leadership Essay: Topics
- What is the meaning of transformational leadership in the workplace?
- Leadership: definition and theories.
- Explain how you understand the concept of servant leadership.
- Define the concept of distributed leadership.
- Leader–member exchange: definitions.
- What is authentic leadership?
- Describe the idea of formal and informal leadership.
- Leadership styles and functions.
- What is the concept of shared leadership?
- Define visionary leadership.
- Leadership and management concepts.
- Describe the characteristics of a situational leader.
- Explain the principles of ethical leadership.
- Empowerment leadership style: definition.
- What is the definition of crisis leadership?
- Describe the concept of collective leadership.
- Ineffective leadership definition.
- Define democratic leadership.
- What is strategic leadership?
- Leadership and management: what is the difference?
- Describe the concept of cooperative leadership.
- Explain how you understand the idea of charismatic leadership.
- The concept of leadership ethics.
Good Definition Essay Topics on Society & Culture
- What is the definition of intersectionality concerning gender and race?
- Explain how you understand the concept of social capital.
- Workplace bullies: term definition.
- What is cultural hegemony?
- Define social stratification in terms of class and power.
- Families: definitions, contexts and theoretical orientations.
- What is cultural relativism?
- Explain how you understand the concept of socialization.
- The concept of sociometric status.
- Define institutional racism in terms of prejudice and discrimination.
- Define structural inequality in terms of economic and political power.
- The principle and concepts of collaboration.
- What is the meaning of cultural transmission?
- Explain how you understand the concept of cultural appropriation.
- Judaism concepts: definition.
- What is the definition of social justice in terms of fairness and equality?
- What is the idea of gender roles in society?
- Concepts of elite culture and popular culture.
- Explain how you understand the concept of ideology.
- Define cultural imperialism in terms of power and influence.
- The concept of ecotourism.
- How would you define cultural heritage?
Science & Technology Definition Essay Topics
- What is the definition of quantum computing in physics?
- Internet piracy concept.
- Explain how you understand the concept of artificial intelligence.
- Define the concept of machine learning.
- Data mining concept.
- Blockchain technology: What is it, and how does it work?
- Provide your understanding of nanotechnology.
- Internal combustion engine concept.
- Explain how you understand genetic engineering.
- Define the concept of biotechnology.
- The concept of nuclear war.
- What is the definition of robotics in engineering?
- Define the concept of cloud computing.
- Cloud storage service concept.
- What is augmented reality?
- Explain how you understand the concept of cryptocurrency.
- The concept of seed germination.
- Define the concept of big data.
- What is the definition of nanorobotics in engineering?
- The concept of the education technology.
- What is biochemistry?
- Define the term digital signal processing.
- What is photosynthesis and light reaction (Calvin cycle)?
Definition Essay Ideas on History & Politics
- What is the definition of democracy in the context of politics?
- Explain how you understand the concept of civil disobedience.
- Securitization: history, definition, and structure.
- What is imperialism?
- Define the term “colonialism.”
- What is the definition of totalitarianism?
- Nazi propaganda: art and politics.
- Explain your understanding of fascism.
- What is the concept of liberalism?
- What is hegemony in the context of politics?
- The country analysis: term definition.
- Explain how you understand anarchism.
- What is absolutism?
- What is the definition of Marxism?
- Art movements in history: baroque.
- Explain your understanding of communism.
- Explain the concept of theocracy in politics.
- Define nationalism in politics.
- What is feudalism in history?
🔊 Definition Argument Essay Topics
A definition argument essay explains a controversial or questionable concept. It implies that the readers cannot understand the issue clearly until you define the term accurately.
Check out some examples of the definition argument essay titles.
Controversial Definition Essay Topics
- What is the definition of justice?
- What is an “expert”: the problem of expertise.
- How can you define the word “gender” in the 21st century?
- Define the term “approach” as it has evolved.
- What is moral integrity in ethics?
- What is the meaning of nerd in today’s culture?
- Explain how you understand the word “boss” in the 21st century.
- Know-how: definition and concept of know-how.
- What is the definition of hipster as it is used today?
- Explain your understanding of the modern ghetto.
- Underground economy: term definition.
- What is the meaning of faux pas in modern English?
- Define the word “intimate” in contemporary language.
- What are genetically modified foods?
- What is the definition of queer in modern dictionaries?
Creative Definition Essay Ideas
- What is a dumbphone, and how did this term emerge?
- What is fiction and what is a short story?
- What does truth mean in the digital age?
- What is the definition of “awesome” in modern-day English?
- What is plagiarism, and how to avoid it?
- Explain the concept of greenwashing.
- Define loyalty in the modern world.
- What is education, and what is learning?
- What is your understanding of the metaverse?
- Explain how you understand the concept of shrinkflation.
- Supply side economics definition.
- How would you define marriage in the contemporary world?
- What is the definition of influencer marketing?
- Marketing strategy: definition and application.
- Define the idea of “fake news” in the modern media landscape.
- What is “data mining,” and what are its implications?
- Global supply chain management: definition.
- Explain the definition of crowdfunding and its potential uses.
- What is a digital detox?
- Marketing myopia concept: definition and examples.
- Define the concept of social media addiction and its effects.
- Explain the idea of consent culture and its importance.
📜 Extended Definition Essay Topics
An extended definition essay is an essay that provides a detailed definition of a term. This type of essay seeks to explain in detail a complex concept using specific vocabulary.
- What is the definition of social activism in modern society?
- What is human resource management?
- Explain how you understand the concept of civil disobedience.
- What is the meaning of pride in psychology?
- What is the multilevel marketing?
- Explain the concept of trust.
- Define bureaucratic tyranny.
- What is activity-based costing?
- Explain the portrayal of patriotism in the media.
- What is the definition of procrastination?
- What is knowledge management, and when is it used?
- Explain how you understand the concept of emotional maturity.
- What is self-discipline?
- What is strategy: discussion.
- How would you define gender-based discrimination?
- What is vanity in terms of wealth and material possessions?
- What is entrepreneurship?
- Explain how you understand assertiveness.
- What is the definition of self-compassion?
- Definition of adult education and its philosophical underpinnings.
- Define the concept of intellectual integrity.
- What is modesty when it comes to the lifestyle?
👧 Easy Definition Essay Topics
- What is the definition of terrorism?
- Annotated bibliography: what is it?
- Define your understanding of the term “depression.”
- Explain how you understand the concept of generosity.
- What is the flexible working?
- What is the meaning of patience?
- Define the term persistence.
- The definition and needs of special education.
- What is your understanding of the word “disability“?
- Define the term humility.
- Peer assessment: definition, benefits, and challenges.
- Explain how you understand the concept of honesty.
- What is justice?
- Plagiarism: definition and the importance of correct citation.
- Define the term responsibility.
- What is diligence?
- Blog users: definition and explanation.
- Explain your understanding of politeness.
- What is the definition of privilege?
- Definition of flexible budgeting.
- Explain how you understand discipline.
- What is environmentalism?
- Value-based marketing definition.
✍️ How to Write a Definition Essay?
Writing a definition essay is easy if you break your work into 5 steps.
|1.||Choose the term.||Better choose something you understand or can quickly figure out. Narrow your topic if necessary.|
|2.||Collect information about the term.||Research dictionaries, look for synonyms, and find relatable examples. Make a list of your findings.|
|3.||Organize the details.||Create a development pattern for your essay. For example, choose chronological order to describe how the term evolved. Create your thesis statement based on the structure you picked.|
|4.||Draft your essay.||Remember that your goal is to define the topic, not just to describe it. Provide as many details as possible. Do not define the term by simply repeating it.|
|5.||Proofread and edit your writing.||Check your grammar and spelling. At this stage, you may even change the ideas in any paragraph.|
🗯️ Definition Essay Outline
Below, we will describe each part of a definition essay.
Definition Essay Introduction
Provide the background of your chosen topic. Then explain the complexity of the term in your understanding. Finally, define your selected word in your thesis statement at the end of the paragraph. A good definition consists of the term itself, the class of concepts it belongs to, and the characteristics distinguishing it from other related terms.
Write clearly and concisely and provide an overview of what the essay will discuss. The introduction should be informative and give your readers a clear understanding of the term.
Definition Essay Body Paragraphs
Separate each definition or understanding of the term using paragraphs. Each part should focus on a single thought that defines a concept differently.
A paragraph begins with a topic sentence that states its main point. This statement should be followed by a thorough explanation of the issue, using examples and supporting evidence. Each body paragraph should also include a transition sentence that links the section to the next one.
Definition Essay Conclusion
Summarize your main points and add some final thoughts. Indicate what is unique about the term you have chosen. The conclusion should provide the reader with a sense of closure.
Your final paragraph should also encourage the reader to explore the topic further. Provide further research ideas or suggest additional issues related to the term.
📝 Definition Essay Example: Beauty
Beauty is a concept that has been around for centuries, yet its definition is ever-evolving. In today's world, beauty is no longer simply physical but encompasses various aspects of an individual, including physical, inner, and self-expressive beauty.
Physical attractiveness is still essential in defining beauty in the modern world. Looking attractive and well-groomed has become a source of pride and empowerment for many people today. It is important to note that traditional beauty standards no longer determine physical beauty. People are considered beautiful regardless of their body shape, skin color, or hair type.
In addition to physical appearance, the inner world has become significant in defining beauty. It includes qualities such as kindness, a positive attitude, intelligence, and strength of character. It is also important to note that inner beauty is not limited to one's personality. Creativity and passion can also be considered sources of inner beauty.
A final factor in defining beauty is self-expression. How people express themselves can significantly affect how others perceive them. Self-expression includes how people dress, style their hair, and present themselves in public. These expressions of individualism can be seen as a source of beauty and a valid factor in judging a person.
Overall, beauty is a combination of attractiveness, soul, and personal brand. It is no longer determined by traditional standards and can be found in various forms. As society continues to evolve, the concept of beauty will change along with it.