There are 6 types of exploratory essays and definition essay is one of them. As the title implies, a definition essay gives the definition and explanation of a particular term or concept. Some terms or concepts have to be defined in precise words. A definition tries to explain the given term of concept in limited number of words, usually a single sentence, covering all important aspects of the term. The same term can be defined in different ways by different people. The definition always goes with the writer who has written that definition. Since the writer defines a concept in a particular way, one cannot change that definition, not a single word of it when you cite the writer's name. The writer is responsible for every word in the definition he writes.
A definition essay is an elaboration of the definition. Since a definition is extremely brief, it does not contain any details or analysis of the concept. The definition essay supports the definition with more details including some examples and illustrations, tables, graphs, charts or diagrams. The writer of the essay has to limit the content to the original definition; he cannot add his own beliefs or ideas. Occasionally, a comment is acceptable; however, the content must revolve around the definition and not wander off in any direction.
A definition essay can also be divided into 5 paragraphs.
1. Introduction - The definition essay begins with the definition under consideration. In the first paragraph, the writer may give an explanation of the words and terminology used in the definition. This is because very often, certain words or terms are used by the original writer in a specific way.
2. Main body:
a.The second paragraph elaborates the theme of the essay. The topic of the essay can be explained or discussed in detail.
b. In the next paragraph of the main body, the writer can support the views expressed in the definition with examples or illustrations. Sometimes, it may be necessary to add graphs, pictures or images to make the concept clear. Presenting some part of the data in a tabular from also helps to clarify concepts.
c. In the next paragraph, the writer may express whether he is in favour of the definition wholly or partly or whether he does not agree with it in or part. The given definition can be studied in comparison to other definitions of the same entity written by others. A reference to other definitions may be made in this paragraph.
3. Conclusion - This is the last part of the definition essay. It may consist of one or occasionally two small paragraphs. The final opinion / explanation / discussion about the theme will be covered in this part along with a brief summary of every point mentioned throughout the essay.
Some difficulties in writing definition essays:
- If students do not understand the technical language and particular words used in the definition, they fail to understand the concept. Hence they cannot elaborate the definition into a full length essay.
- Many times, students do not have a stock of appropriate examples and illustrations to support the definition.
- Students do not understand how to develop the definition essay step by step.
- Students feel that sometimes, the definition itself is so brief, compact and self-explanatory that there remains nothing more to be said about it.
- Lack of language competency and inadequate writing skills are also a major hurdle.
- If students are not familiar with the topic, they have no knowledge about other definitions of the same entity. Hence, they cannot refer to them or compare them with the given definition.
Hence, students find a definition essay beyond their capacity.
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