Definition Essay Topics

Essay paper writing

Academic writing


Definition essay is one of the most popular types of essays, and probably most college students have written at least one of these. Even though definition essay seems easy at first, it is not what it seems at first. Writing a definition essay of a good quality requires some time and dedication, and, what is more important, a rightly chosen topic. This article will discuss how to succeed in writing a definition essay and contains definition essay topic ideas you can choose from — and your job is to read carefully and pick a topic you like.

So what is a definition essay?

The goal of a definition essay is to explain a particular concept or term. There are terms that can be defined easily, such as glass or table. More abstract things like love or honor have various definitions and can be used as definition essay topics with multiple meaning. Definition essay not only gives readers an explanation of a specific term but expands its meaning and provides different opinions on the same term.

You can define a term you picked in different ways:

  • By function. You have to explain how something works or what does it do in general.
  • By a structure. You have to tell how a thing is organized.
  • By analysis. You have to compare a subject to other similar term and go through similarities and differences.
  • By telling what a term does not mean. If there are many untrue stereotypes about the term you have chosen, you can write a definition essay explaining what is true and what is not. For example, you can find some slang definition essay topics and explain a definition of some slang words since many people are not sure what they mean.

definition essay

How to write a definition essay

There are a few tips and tricks you should learn before writing an actual essay. This article will briefly explain the structure of a definition essay and help you create the best one.

Let’s start with choosing a topic. Find a concept or idea on which you have some thoughts you are willing to share. There are millions of topics to choose from, and if you are not sure about which one you should pick, find a definition essay topics list and choose something you like from it. Just don’t pick something too concrete, like “tree” or “shoe”, because there won’t be much to talk about.

After you have chosen your topic, start a research on the word picked. Watch videos, read articles, look for websites and academic resources that address that word. Talk to people around you — ask them for their opinion on the word. Then, by using both the researches you have done and the experience from your life, create your own definition of a subject. If you were choosing among easy definition essay topics, there won’t be much of a research done, but if your topic is a deeper one, don’t be lazy and work a lot on finding good academic resources.

In your introductory paragraph, give a standard definition of your word from a dictionary — this way you will create a context for your topic that will give your readers a basic information about the word. It is important to always give a traditional definition of your subject in at the beginning of the definition essay, even if your definitions vary from the usual meaning.

After giving a traditional definition, you can move to your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should define a subject in your own words. Basically, you will give your opinion on a word. Keep your definition short and simple — body paragraphs are meant for explanations, not an introduction.

Separate your definition of the word into body paragraphs. In the first one, discuss the origin of the word and how it was used previously. In the second paragraph analyze the dictionary definition of the term. You can rephrase a definition and look at it from different points of view. Then you can compare the word with other terms that are similar to your topic. You can also discuss words that are opposite to your topic. Lastly, talk about your definition of the word. You can describe your own experiences that shaped your view on the word. Don’t forget to support your arguments with evidences and references.

Conclude your essay by restating the main points and the thesis statement. Take the first sentence from each of the main body paragraphs and restate them in your own words. The last sentence of the conclusion should give a clear image of the main point of your essay. Don’t bring up any new information or ideas in the conclusion of your essay.

Definition essay topics for college students

From time to time college students might have to complete an assignment in form of a definition essay. It might seem as an easy task at first, but it is not what it looks like. College students have to pick their topics wisely because in order to write a good definition essay a writer should possess knowledge of linguistics and have a rich vocabulary. But don’t worry — just do your best and follow the structure of an essay, and you will get a perfect definition essay.

Here are some great definition essay topics for college students:

  1. Second language: what is the importance of knowing another language and how does it affect our lives?
  2. College professor: what kind of traits should a good college professor have?
  3. College degree: which role does it play in a life of a student?
  4. Intelligence: what does it mean to be intelligent and what can you do to increase intelligence?
  5. Maturity: how can maturity of any person be defined and does maturity come with age or experience?
  6.  College application: what does it mean to write a good college application and which essay will impress admission officers? 
  7. Educational games: what are education games and can games really help in the learning process in schools and colleges?
  8. Healthy living: how to develop good and healthy habits and how can a college student have a healthier lifestyle?
  9. Leaving with a roommate on a campus: which traits should a good roommate have?
  10. Time management: how is time management important in college and how do you learn to take control of your time?

Social topics for a definition essay

Society keeps changing all the time, and some traditional trends are being replaced, while other stay untouched for ages. Our opinions and views on some things change as well. In our modern world social issues are being reviewed from different perspectives, and writing a definition essay on some of them is a good chance to take an action in solving some problems or taking a look at social issues from a different angle. You can also combine social and creative definition essay topics to explain common things in original and unexpected ways and connect subjects that are not related at first sight.

To write a good definition essay on social topics you need to complete as many researches as possible to find out how different people of different ages and cultures view a subject you are writing about. Only when you see a full picture you will understand your topic better. Don’t hesitate to ask your family and friends for their opinions — their ideas will be useful too. And if you are not sure about the topic you want to pick, here is a list of interesting definition essay topics on society:

  1. Laziness: is being lazy a good or a bad trait and how it can be changed?
  2. Personality: what does it mean to develop a good personality and what actually being a good person means?
  3. Equal rights: what does it mean to have equal rights and how to make our society equal?
  4. Success: what does it mean to be successful and how did famous people succeed?
  5. Poverty: how many people suffer from poverty and how can it be stopped?
  6. Heroism: who can be called a hero nowadays?
  7. Animal rights: what are animal rights and what can we do to protect animals?
  8. Multiculturalism: what is multiculturalism and what influence does it have?
  9. Humanitarianism: what is it and what it means for human rights?
  10. Tourism: what is tourism and which are the positive and negative effects on the social-cultural environment of a country?
  11. Food crisis: what are the causes and consequences of a food crisis?
  12. Political correctness: what is it and is it important to be politically correct?
  13. Right to privacy: does everybody deserve a right to privacy and how can it be protected? 
  14. Modern art: which impact does modern art have on the society?

Argumentative definition essay topics

argumentative definition essay topics

There are a lot of topics in our world that cause debates. Some of them have existed for centuries, while some issues have been born in a new decade. What we can say for sure that if there is a problem in society, it should definitely be discussed by students, politicians, and writers. If you are willing to express your opinion about something like this, don’t hesitate to talk about what you think. If you are not sure about the topic, here are some controversial topics for a definition essay.

  1. Sex minorities: which obstacles do sex minorities face and how can we as a society stop discrimination against people of different gender identities and sexual orientations?
  2. Alcoholism: why do people suffer from alcoholism and where a root of the problem lies?
  3. Drug abuse: why do people start taking drugs and what kind of influence do drugs have on our brain?
  4. Pro-choice and pro-life: what do they stand for and what arguments have been made in support of both?
  5. Death penalty: should it still exist and is it a humane thing to do?
  6. Racism: does it still exist in our century and how do we stop it?
  7. Global warming: what causes global warming and how can it be stopped?
  8. Cloning: what is the purpose of cloning and is it ethical to clone a human being or an animal?
  9. Environmental conservation: what is it and how can we protect the nature of our planet and conserve natural resources?
  10. Cigarette smoking: how harmful smoking cigarettes is and does the effect of smoking worth it?
  11. Patriotism: what is it and should every citizen of any country be patriotic?

Common definition essay topics on history and politics

Both politics and history have been an important part of our lives. Many events in the history of humanity have shaped our society and made us who we are today. Of course, there were many mistakes that were made by previous generations. But what we can do is to analyze these mistakes and events and give them a new meaning and to learn from them.

Politics has existed for as long as history did. There were kings and queens, imperators, dictators, activists, and all of these people have ruled countries and civilizations. There were great figures that led our world to progress, and there were people who let us down. Nowadays politics is highly discussed, and every step of politicians is watched and analyzed by us.

Definition essay helps to find another meaning for things from the past, so we could make our future better.

  1. American Presidents: were they good leaders and which changes did they make in the USA?
  2. Political parties: how many political parties are there and what do they stand for?
  3. Independence: what does it mean for a country to be independent?
  4. Democracy: what is the value of democracy and is democracy really superior to any other form of government?
  5. Communism and capitalism: how different are they and which one is better for society?
  6. Great Depression: why did the Great Depression happen and how much did influence our society?
  7. Right to vote: what does it mean to have a right to vote and who should have a right to vote?
  8. Terrorism: where does terrorism come from and what can be done to stop it?
  9. Revolution: what is a revolution and what are the causes of the most important revolutions that happened through history?
  10. Anarchism: what does it mean to be an anarchist?

Definition essay topics for high school students

definition essay topics for high school students

As said previously, a definition essay is a very popular type of essay, so it is not a surprise that some high school teachers will decide to give a definition essay as an assignment. It is crucial to follow all the instructions that a teacher gave and to cite all the quotes or material you have mentioned in your essay.

And here are some good definition essay topics that are great for high school students.

  1. Self-respect: how important is to have self-respect and how can a high school student gain respect for yourself?
  2. Responsible behavior: how can a teenager become more responsible for his or her actions?
  3. Creative mind: what does it mean to be creative and how can a student develop his or her creativity?
  4. Cell phones and other electronics in class: is it good or bad for the learning process?
  5. Dream career: how can a high school student find a future job that he or she would enjoy?
  6. Classroom disruptions: how to prevent classroom disruptions and cope with them?
  7. Friendship: what is it and how can you find great friends in high school that will stay with you for your whole life?
  8. Physical activity: should every high school student participate in physical activity and how important is it for his or her life?

Extended definition essay topics

extended definition essay topics

An extended definition of a word goes beyond the definition taken from dictionaries, and analyzes the concept that can be controversial, unfamiliar and abstract. You should use evidence to explain why did you define the subject in a particular way. Some topics can actually be abstract, so you can use them as abstract definition essay topics too.

  1. Bravery: is it the same as courage and what does it mean to be a brave person?
  2. Wisdom: what is it and what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?
  3. Hate: is it the most destructive feeling in the world and how does it influence us?
  4. Happiness: is achieving happiness a meaning of our lives and how do people actually become happy?
  5. Trust: what is a true meaning of trust and how do we win a trust of close people?
  6.  Feeling of love: can this feeling be defined and what is the meaning of love in our lives?
  7. Honesty: does it mean always telling the truth no matter what?
  8.  Respect: what does it mean to respect somebody and how do you show your respect?
  9. Generosity: how can it be defined and who can be called generous in the modern world?

Final Thoughts

Writing a definition essay requires some time and dedication, but nothing is impossible. Use this article to find out more about finding and writing definition essay topics. Always pay attention to the instructions for the essay if they are given. And, what is more important, believe in yourself and your talent — and this way you will succeed in writing.




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