How To Write A-Grade Definition Essays: A Manual For High School Students

Writing a definition essay can prove to be a deceivingly difficult task. This is the kind of essay that requires writing a personal but still academic definition of a particular word. The most challenging aspect with such a paper is that the definition has to be lengthy and adequately comprehensive, which means that you’ve got to select a word that offers plenty to write about. Here are some useful tactics on how to write A-grade definition papers.

Choosing an Appropriate Word

The most critical tip on how to write A-grade definition essays is choosing an appropriate word. The best approach is to select an abstract term that has a complex meaning. Simple terms that refer to concrete meanings will not offer much to explore through writing, but complex terms that refer to abstract concepts offer more to write about. Rather than choosing nouns that refer to people, places or things are usually too simple for an interesting definition paper. However, nouns that refer to ideas are more appropriate as they are often abstract, e.g. “home”.

Ensure the Term is Disputable

Besides being abstract and complex, the term should have different meanings to different people. Definition essays tend to be quite subjective as they require the writer to define and analyze a term from his/her own perspective. A definition paper may appear to be shallow if the conclusion you arrive at after analyzing the term is similar to any other person’s conclusion.

Choose Terms that you are Conversant with

A useful tactic on how to write A-grade definition essays is to choose words that you are familiar with. While dictionary definitions offer a basic meaning, its better when you choose terms or concepts that you have some experience or knowledge with. This will help you come up with a more elaborate definition. Always avoid words that you have never heard about or words that you lack any previous understanding of the concepts involved.

Use the Dictionary Definition

Although you shouldn’t solely rely on the dictionary’s definition for the essay, it pays to familiarize yourself with the official definition. This allows you to compare the most basic academic definition of the term with your own understanding of the term.

Find out the Origin of the Term

Besides the dictionary definition, consider using a different etymology dictionary to find out the history of the chosen word. This helps to provide deeper insights on the general definition as well as details on how the word came to have its present meaning.


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