How to Properly Write a Definition Essay Outline

How to Properly Write a Definition Essay Outline

Defining a Definition Essay

On a general note, a proper definition essay should work towards providing all of the nitty-gritty essential details surrounding a concept or even a single word. As a straight-forward example, students taking an art course or class, might be tasked with writing a compiling definition essay about Vermillion, which is reddish-orange vivid color, or on Cubism, which stands for a specific form of creating art. Thus, any definition essay should mainly focus on one complex subject as simple ones are less likely to provide enough details for creating a compelling and accurate essay. Of course, the subjects may vary yet the structure of a proper definition essay will remain the same. As for the basic and essential sections of a definition essay, these are the introduction, the body paragraphs and the conclusion.

Possible Definition Essay Types

In most cases, a professor will tend to assign his students definition essays at the beginning of their classes. This is due to the main focus of the essay, which is that of exploring a particular concept. Based on their area of expertise, the concepts can mostly be divided into three large categories:

  • Abstract Concepts: This would translate into that type of essay in which the assignment at hand explores the means to fully define a complex and difficult topic. Abstract concepts are by definition vast and complicated, and a couple of pertinent examples of abstract concepts include notions such as liberty, love, hate, ambition, generosity, malevolence, pride or patriotism. In all cases, the main focus of the essay should rely heavily on breaking down the concept into several manageable parts or sections for the audience.
  • A Particular Place: The definition essays that will focus on a particular place will tend to explore in depth that specific type of place as well as you, in the posture of the writer, perceive this place. Among the most common and often encountered types of places you may find assigned are a country, an entire state, a city, a neighborhood, a park, a house or even a room. The size of the actual place is irrelevant as this might be a small or a huge location. Regardless, the key to writing a proper definition essay that focuses on a particular place will be comprised of selecting a place that you are specifically familiar with; this would be ideal as you wouldn’t need to research the place much further, since you would already know it intimately.
  • A Particular Adjective: An essay focusing on an adjective will center mainly on creating and explaining its definition. Among the most popular topics assigned for this category, you might find the description of “good” or alternatively “bad” friends or acquaintances, rules or laws. Thus, the main focus of your essay should be aimed at exploring the qualities and main attributes of either a “good” friend or, perhaps, a “bad” present.

Brining your Definition Essay Outline to Perfection, and Beyond

The first step before actually sitting down and writing the definition essay will be to divide the whole general concept into all the equally valuable parts that form it. Simply put, this refers to the ways in which you will actually define your subject for the essay in cause. These different parts could easily be compared to the gears running behind a clock’s mechanism, or all the vital pieces that make a mechanism work. As soon as you will have brainstormed these parts, you will be ready to create its outline, after which you can proceed to writing structured paragraphs about each. For example, the standard outline for the current essay is a simple five paragraph one. These paragraphs will include the introduction, one or more body paragraphs and finally, the conclusion. As for the number of body paragraphs, they will be determined by the number of aspects the subject needs defined. In most cases, this type of definition essay will be exactly what it will sound like, working to define a specific concept or word. At this point, the advice of Richard Brinsley Sheridan comes quite handy, as you should never say more than necessary.

Essential Parts that Constitute the Outline of a Good Definition Essay:

Starting from the above-mentioned premises, the standard parts that form a compelling definition essay can be extrapolated through a series of equally helpful and important subdivisions:

  1. The Introduction Paragraph
  2. The History Paragraph
    • Body Paragraphs
    • Denotative Definition Paragraph
    • Connotative Definition Paragraph
  3. The Conclusion Paragraph

Needless to say, the final paragraph which will deliver the conclusion will always be strictly related to the connotative definition one, yet you should always start from the beginning as this is where you will basically determine the role and content of each part.

The Introduction Paragraph:

A solid introduction paragraph should always act as a main gateway towards the actual subject of the essay. You should always use this chapter to mildly introduce your subject, while at the same time to gain the interest of your readers. Recommended would be for this paragraph to debut with what is commonly referred to as “an attention getter”, or alternatively, a “hook”. This will always make your readers curious and wanting to read more. At this point, the use of interesting and well-known quotations would also be highly recommended and an overall great idea. Then you can continue by providing background details which will help your readers understand the main ideas or concepts that you will be defining in the upcoming body paragraphs.

The Body Paragraphs:

Each of the body paragraphs that you will choose to follow the introduction should focus on different layers and aspects that contribute equally to defining the given subject of your definition essay.

  • History Paragraph: Usually the majority of definition essay are formed of three paragraphs, with the first one delving into the origins of the word or concept, as well as the means by which it came to be a mainstream element in public language. Thus, this first paragraph should address any available root words, suffixes (if any) in the word, and also the actual evolution of the word in itself.
  • Denotative Definition Paragraph: This should always constitute the second step and should mainly focus on the dictionary sense and definition of the term, as well as on how the word can be properly used in both writing and conversations. A good example of this would be represented by the different speech parts in which the term of “love” can appear: as a noun, as a verb or as an adjective.
  • Connotative Definition Paragraph: This third, but not necessarily last paragraph, will often be the longest one. It should mainly focus on the writer’s definition of the subject word and should be mostly based on the writer’s research as well as personal experience. This is that part of your essay where you can be as bold as you want, and also where you should try to describe and define your subject in your own unique manner, one that nobody else has thought of before. Originality is a key element and in this direction, comparison to animals or colors will always trigger your readers imagination. Naturally you should also reason your choices and providing concrete examples of instances and actions will maintain your reader’s engagement. Excellent sentences exist because they provide subtle clues that make your audience inherently understand the more positive nature of your subject, rather than its negative one. Basically, the third connotative paragraph should be dedicated to the writer’s personal comprehension of the word or concept.

The Conclusion Paragraph:

Usually the conclusion paragraph, which will also be the last paragraph of your definition essay, tends to be the shortest one, yet this shouldn’t come as a rule. Even if this will be the case, this doesn’t mean that the conclusion will be the easiest paragraph to write. However, one extremely important mention is that the better your body paragraphs will be structured and formulated, the easier it will be for you to write the final conclusion paragraph. The main reason behind this is the fact that a pertinent conclusion will only reiterate the main aspects detailed in each of the precedent body paragraphs. Subsequently, if your body paragraphs have been formulated in a clear, non-repetitive manner, in which you have avoided at all costs rambling and focused on the essentials, drafting the key ideas for your conclusion will prove fairly easy. What you should avoid at all costs is to repeat yourself, as going word for word for statements already written in the previous parts of the essay will only create vague echoes of your own crucial ideas. Thus, the best way to approach the conclusion would be to properly summarize your essay by yourself, instead of simply copy pasting already existing content.

There are many professors out there that prefer creating definition essays as personal writing assignments. Should this be your case, it would be recommended to discuss and debate your personal comprehension of the word or concept first. In this direction, providing an actual example derived from your real life, and using your own descriptions for the word or concept will do the trick.

Standard Example of a Definition Essay Outline

As soon as you will have learned the subject and the concept of your upcoming essay, putting everything learned above into practice will come fairly easy. Creating the outline on a theoretical subject such as “hate” should look something of the sorts:

  • Introduction: Thesis: While different types of cultures will define the “hate” concept in different manners, most of the agree that this notion exists as a negative, broad concept, that defined humans’ adverse reactions since the dawn of times.
  • Topic Sentence 1: While the Ancient Chinese, Persian and Greeks cultures have all approached “hate” differently, they have also shared many similar positions towards this notion.
  • Topic Sentence 2: The denotative definition of “hate” includes 5 different noun definitions, as well as 3 distinct verb ones; this is what actually highlights the extremely complex nature of “hate” as a concept.
  • Topic Sentence 3: Our modern society is utterly fueled by the idea of “hate”, whether in interpersonal, intrapersonal or business relationships. Conclusion: Hate affects most aspects of our human experience, having done so since the beginning of days.

Expert Tips:

Whenever preparing to write a definition essay, a series of reliable tips coming from professional essay writers will always come in handy. Thus, when establishing and creating the outline for your definition essay, you should always try your best to:

  • Keep your sentences as simple as you can, even though at some points you will need to elaborate and create longer descriptive ones;
  • Incorporate as many literary devices as you can, as these subterfuges will highly resonate with your readers;
  • Select an abstract topic if possible as there are a lot of great options to choose from in this sector;
  • Select topics that allow plenty of room for original descriptions;
  • Lastly, start early as by creating an outline to help you organizing your idea or concept and starting the process of researching it right after will attract readers through the evolution graphic created.
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