Coming up with great topics for a definition essay


Definition essays are explanations of words, terms, or concepts. These explanations are generally the author’s own point of view regarding the meaning of the word, term, or concept. A well-crafted definition essay will have a solid thesis statement describing YOUR definition of the term. Other important parts of a good definition essay are:

  • Many examples to illustrate and explain what you understand the concept as, and what you mean by the definition
  • A mention of the definition(s) you have chosen not to agree with
  • A dictionary definition restated in your own words

Selecting a topic for your definition essay is sometimes more difficult than you expected. Almost all words that are not “material” (for example table’s chair) have varying and sometimes opposing definitions. Take, for instance, the concept of success. Does the definition differ between individuals, groups, families, and societies?

Ask yourself a couple of questions before you make your choice:

  1. Do you know and understand this term and its implications in any depth?
  2. Can you treat this topic with attention to nuances?

The best essay topics almost always come from the heart. Write about a term or concept that means something to you. Do you wonder about the meaning of happiness? Does the word “hatred” feel different to you than its usual connotation? Take up a topic you can write about with interest and passion. This is the surest way to effective essay writing.

If no concept, term, or word looks better or worse than the next, you can brainstorm with a friend to find a topic you are enthusiastic about. Talking about various concepts with another person will inform you about your knowledge and interests.

Your personal experience with an abstract term is another deciding factor in your topic selection. You can explain your definition of the term in detail and with examples. The understanding gained through direct experience is unmatched. You can also write about a concept that you have observed in others but have not experienced.

A few good topics for your definition essay:

  1. Honor
  2. Popularity
  3. Fame
  4. Frustration
  5. Desperation
  6. Love
  7. Hatred
  8. Team spirit
  9. Leadership qualities
  10. Success
  11. Failure
  12. Loyalty
  13. Faith
  14. Trust
  15. Goodness
  16. Evil

These are just a few examples of interesting definition essay topics. Select a topic that you can make into a clear and easy-to-understand essay.

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