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Chunk Definition Essay Topics

The ‘key words’ in an essay question allow you to identify what you are supposed to write about. Use the strategies below to break questions down in to manageable chunks.

Introductory question or statement

Example 1

Full question:“What is meant by shock advertising? Evaluate the arguments for and against the use of shock advertising by marketers.”
Extract the basic question:
“Evaluate the arguments for and against the use of shock advertising by marketers.”
Remaining words introduce the topic and give focus. They are not key to the question.

Example 2 

Full question: “Popular magazines for men and women are selfish, superficial and obsessed with sex. Discuss, making reference to at least one magazine.”
Extract the basic question:
“Discuss, making reference to at least one magazine.”
The process word ‘discuss’ refers back to the topic in the initial statement.
The initial statement is vital to understanding the question in this case.
Possible actions: Take out the introductory/initial question or statement to see what effect it has on your question.
If the question feels like it has missing information, look for what is missing in the initial statement.

Example 3 - Identify the meaning words

Question:"What is meant by shock advertising?Evaluate the arguments for and against the use of shock advertising by marketers."
Analysis: The initial question is struck out because it is not vital to understanding the essay question.
Green indicates the process word (in this case 'Evaluate'). This tells you how to approach the paper.
The words in bluecarry all the meaning. Work out their significance. Use your knowledge of the subject to help you do that.


'Arguments’ carries the same meaning as ‘for and against’ so it doesn’t add anything further to the question.

The concept of ‘use’ is implied by the topic ‘shock advertising’. Check whether you need to distinguish ‘use’ from ‘concept’, as this could be a key word as well.

Understanding process words

The process word tells you what structure your essay will take: linear, two sided, argumentative?

Remember to:

  • Pick out the verb in the question – the word that tells you what to do in the paper
  • Understand what that word means (download our list of process words below)
  • Structure your essay around that word

Go to chapter on 'Structuring your essay' to help you structure your essay based on the process word.

What Is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay (see all essay types) is a piece of writing that explains what a term or a concept means. Some terms have definite, concrete meanings, such as glass, book, or tree. Terms such as honesty, honor, or love are abstract and depend more on a person's point of view. 

The term may be evaluated from the direct, or exact meaning and from the point of the subjectivity of the person defining the term. The aim is not only to provide the dictionary definition but also to expound on why the word is defined in such a manner. The approach to be used depends on the subject, your readers, and the essay’s purpose.

3 Steps to a Powerful Definition Essay

When you strat writing a definition essay follow 3 main steps

Step 1: Tell readers what term is being defined.
Step 2: Present clear and basic information.
Step 3: Use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

Choosing Ideas for Writing a Definition Essay

Choosing a definition is a key step in writing a definition essay. You need to understand the term for you to be easy to define it for others. Read the dictionary, but don't just copy the definition. Explain the term's definition briefly in your own words. In addition, it is important to limit your term before you start defining it. For example, you could write forever on the term "love". To limit it, you would write about either "romantic love", "platonic love", or "first love". If you are assigned to write a definition essay here is a great list of definition essay topics:


If the definition essay topics from the list above don't match your assignment and you need another topic for a definition writing feel free to contact our writing service or read an article on How to Pick Proper Essay Topics.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Outline and Format

Definition essay outline format is similar to that of a typical essay and includes several unique characteristics. Typically, it includes introduction, body and conclusion parts. Here is a detailed focus on each section.

Definition Essay: Introduction

Start with one of the various techniques, such as a short anecdote, an extended definition, or some open-ended questions. Your introduction should conclude with a distinct, precise thesis statement that tells your readers just what your essay will be discussing. All body paragraphs directly and clearly support the thesis statement. The thesis statement usually identifies the term being defined and provides a brief, basic definition.

If you are looking for definition essay examples here is a great one below.


Definition Essay: Body Paragraphs

Create a thorough definition. There are several ways to define a term. Here are a few options.

Define by functionExplain what something does or how something works.
Define by a structureTell how something is organized or put together.
Define by analysisCompare the term to other members of its class and then illustrate the differences. These differences are special characteristics that make the term stand out. For example, compare a Siberian husky to other dogs, such as lap dogs, mutts, or sporting dogs.
Define by what the term does not mean

This distinction can sometimes clarify a definition and help a reader to better understand it.

Use understandable facts, examples, or anecdotes. Select facts, examples, or anecdotes to fully explain your definition. Ask yourself, "Which examples will best help readers understand the term? What examples would most appeal to my readers? Will a brief story reveal the term's meaning?" Do not use any examples that will not support the definition.

Definition Essay: Conclusion

Restate the thesis statement in other words. Give an overview of the main points of the paper, referring from the entire body paragraphs. Link back to the attention grabber to conclude your essay.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Powerful Definition Essay Writing:

Need a definition essay? Our writers are experienced in all types of essays writing, including a definition essay. Place an order today to get your definition essay on time.

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