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UMGC Effective Writing Center How to Write an Extended Definition

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Usually when you hear the word "definition" you think of a dictionary or encyclopedia. For example, a juvenile delinquent is an underage person convicted of crime or antisocial behavior. Likewise, a venture capitalist is a person who provides money for innovative projects.

Perhaps you have written a narrative essay about a personal experience in which you are called upon to classify and to analyze causes and effects. All of these patterns and more can be used in your paragraphs to clarify and extend the term you have chosen.

Example: Single Pattern

Sometimes a single pattern will be sufficient to extend the definition to achieve the effect you want for your audience. For example, let's say in an introductory sociology course, you are introducing the term "juvenile delinquent" to the class. You could use the "classify" pattern to clarify how broadly the term in used in this field:

  • Term: juvenile delinquent
  • Standard definition: an underage person who has committed a crime.
  • Pattern: Classify
  • Overall Point: To understand "juvenile delinquent" in this field, it's necessary to know the major types of delinquents.
  • The first type of delinquent is . . .
  • The second type of delinquent is . . .
  • The third type of delinquent is . . .

Example: Multi Pattern

Depending on the term, you may find that using several patterns is the best way to help shape your audience's understanding of a term. For example, let's consider the innocent sounding term "arbitration." Maybe you wish to make the point that sometimes legal terms are used to desensitize us from what is really taking place. Consider this example:

  • Term: Arbitration
  • Standard definition: legal process of resolving a dispute
  • Classify Pattern--list and define types of arbitration, including "forced arbitration"
  • Narration Pattern--The FAIR Act seeks to end the use of forced arbitration by U.S. employers
  • Cause/Effect pattern: Multiple examples of the victims of forced arbitration have pressured Congress to act through legislation

Your task in writing an extended definition is to add to the standard/notional definition in a way that will allow your audience to gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the term in a particular context. Whether you do this by adding facts, telling what a term does not include, or applying any of the many development patterns (classify, illustrate, cause/effect, compare/contrast, narration, description), matters not. Only the development of clear understanding between you and your audience should be the ultimate goal.

Video Tutorial: Writing the Extended Definition Essay

Follow along with UMGC's Effective Writing Center as they walk through the Extended Definition Essay.

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Tutlance Learn

How to Write an Extended Definition Essay

how to start an extended definition essay

Writing an extended definition essay is like an essay about anything: you need to make it interesting and worth reading. With definition essays, however, you must do one more thing that is not always necessary with other types of writing—you have to prove whatever you are defining (no matter how obvious).

What is an extended definition essay?

An extended definition essay is a writing assignment where you have to choose a concept and define it. To do this, you’ll need to provide an explanation of the concept (i.e., give its meaning), as well as examples of what the concept entails. This is also known as representing or exemplifying the concept through descriptions, examples, and details.

What is an extended definition?

An extended definition includes more than just the word’s general meaning and/or synonyms of the concept in question. Also included are: a history of the term, why this term was chosen over others, how it compares to similar concepts, and its strengths and weaknesses. This will of course depend on what you’re writing about.

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Why would an extended definition be used?

Depending on the subject of your extended definition essay, this type of writing is usually used in academia to describe a concept in detail. In higher education, students are expected to know why certain words were chosen over others when defining a term, and how it fits into the context of a specific discipline.

Why are extended definition essays important?

An extended definition essay is used to describe a concept in detail, which can help you further your understanding of it. This can be helpful for researching information for other essays or assignments, conducting scientific studies that rely on accurate identification of variables, and so much more!

How to write an extended definition essay – step by step

If your readers don’t understand what something means after having read your paper, then you have not proven it. When you do this, then readers will see that a subject is worth writing about. With the following steps and a little creativity, you can write a great extended definition essay.

Step 1: Gather Your Information

To have proof of your extended definition, you need to have proof—facts, statistics, quotes, and well-thought out examples. The amount of information you need depends on the topic, but typically more is better to support your definition. You can find information in textbooks, encyclopedias, magazines (like TIME), newspapers online , and there are plenty of resources available to help with research like Google Scholar .

Step 2: Brainstorm Your Points

Once you have the information you need, it is time to think of your points. You can do this beforehand or while doing research—whichever way works best for you. Consider everything that is associated with your topic and start making a list. Some examples:

-A car cannot function without gasoline (combustion)

-Coffee is a stimulant

-The sun gives off light and heat energy

Once you have your list, go through it and pick out the main points. These will be your thesis (defining sentence) and topic sentences for each supporting paragraph. If you find that some of your examples do not work as proof or are redundant, then you can either remove them from your list or cut and paste them into a separate document.

Step 3: Write Your Thesis, Topic Sentences, and Supporting Paragraphs

This is the hard part because you need to make each of your main points as effective as possible. Start with the first point on your list. Read through your information and think of how you can make it interesting, new, or applicable to something that your reader will know. Once you have the idea for your topic sentence, write it down. Then read through what you have written so far and rewrite it until you are happy with the final result. This example applies to an extended definition paper about aspirin:

Aspirin is a drug that helps with pain and inflammation.

Thesis statement: Aspirin is a drug that helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Topic Sentence 1: One way aspirin does this is by stopping prostaglandins from being made, which are chemicals that contribute to pain, fever, and inflammation.

Evidence/Proof: Aspirin blocks prostaglandins from being made by sticking to COX enzymes that help with the process of making them.

Topic Sentence 2 : Another way aspirin helps is by stopping substances called thromboxanes, which lead to bruising and blood clotting.

This topic sentence is saying the same thing as the previous sentence. You can either cut this paragraph or move it to a separate document if you choose to add extra information about aspirin later on.

This topic sentence is introducing a new way that aspirin helps, so it would be best to leave it. And its proof should go in a separate paragraph anyway since it is more complicated than the other examples.

Here is one possible example of how your essay might look when you are done:

Aspirin, a common drug in households worldwide, has many benefits such as relieving pain and reducing inflammation. One way it does this is by stopping prostaglandins from being made, which are chemicals that contribute to pain, fever and inflammation. Aspirin blocks prostaglandins from being made by sticking to COX enzymes that help with the process of making them. Another way aspirin helps is by stopping substances called thromboxanes, which lead to bruising and blood clotting.

Topic Sentence 3: One last way aspirin helps is by stopping substances called cyclooxygenases from being made, which are chemicals that contribute to pain and inflammation.

After you have written your thesis and all of your topic sentences, you can add in any other proofs or details. While it is not necessary to add them to the example above, they should go into separate paragraphs with topic sentences that make them easier to follow.

For an extended definition essay about aspirin, here are some additional facts that might be added:

– Aspirin is the only available drug that stops inflammation on its own.

– It has few side effects when taken in small doses, but it can damage the stomach lining if too much of it is ingested at once .

– Like all medications, aspirin should not be taken without a doctor’s prescription .

Step 4: Revise Your Essay

It is a good idea to read through your entire essay before you decide that it’s ready for grading. Look in the margins of the paper and check if your paragraphs are organized. If all of them have topic sentences, they should flow from one to the next without being confusing. If you have an intro and a conclusion, they should do their jobs of making the reader interested in the topic and satisfied with what they read before moving on.

Once you are happy with your essay, print it out or copy it onto a computer file so that you can save it for later. You could even use this for a study guide or review before a test on the same topic.

The Extended Definition Essay Checklist

These are some of the most important things you should check for in your essay:

  • – Does my intro make me want to read on?
  • – Is there a transition sentence at the end of each paragraph that leads into the next one?
  • – Do the topic sentences in each paragraph match with their details?
  • – Is there a proof to back up every topic sentence?

Once you have gone through your extended definition paper and made sure it has everything it needs, you can hand it in or email it to your teacher for grading.

Extended definition essay outline

A good extended definition essay outline is all about being able to show you understand the concept of extended definition. This can be somewhat complex, so an outline is a great place to start!

What is an extended definition essay outline?

An extended definition essay outline helps you organize your thoughts and ideas before starting on the actual writing process. It also ensures that all of the information you’re providing to your audience makes sense by revealing the bigger picture first, then filling in the gaps afterward.

Start with a brief introduction of the concept

Typically, this section should include a short introduction explaining what your extended definition essay is about. You might also want to provide a thesis statement in this section that states whether or not your subject is going to be defined accurately.

State the meaning of the word/concept

In the second section, you should explain how other words relate to this one and/or what concepts are similar or different than the one you’re defining.

Detail the history, origin, and/or evolution of this concept

This portion should include details on how and where your specific word was first used. Also discuss why it was chosen over other words that mean more or less the same thing. Then, end with a quick summary of what the term is currently used for.

Compare and contrast your subject to other similar concepts

In this section, you should explain how your chosen concept relates to similar ones. For example, if you’re writing about a computer virus, you might also include information on a human virus as well as other types of malware that affect computers or mobile devices .

Discuss the benefits and/or drawbacks of this concept

Lastly, you should wrap up your extended definition essay outline by discussing why this concept may be advantageous or problematic. Even though there are good points to every idea, it can be helpful to point out things that might affect people in general if they don’t know about them.

Write a conclusion

In the conclusion section of your essay, you should write a short summary of what you said in your outline. This is basically a preview of all of your points as if you were trying to convince someone to take an interest in your subject or idea. You might also want to leave them with something that makes them hungry for more information by asking a question, such as “Why is this good/bad?” or “What can we learn from this?”

Create a works cited page/references

Make sure to include a works cited page that has all of your sources and information where you got the data for your extended definition essay! This should be done in MLA, APA, or any other citation format and should list all sources that you used in the order that they appear in your extended definition essay writing .


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Definition Essay

Barbara P

Definition Essay - Writing Guide, Examples and Tips

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Published on: Oct 9, 2020

Last updated on: Jul 17, 2023

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Many students struggle with writing definition essays due to a lack of clarity and precision in their explanations.

This obstructs them from effectively conveying the essence of the terms or concepts they are tasked with defining. Consequently, the essays may lack coherence, leaving readers confused and preventing them from grasping the intended meaning.

But don’t worry!

In this guide, we will delve into effective techniques and step-by-step approaches to help students craft an engaging definition essay.

Continue reading to learn the correct formation of a definition essay. 

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What is a Definition Essay?

Just as the name suggests, a definition essay defines and explains a term or a concept. Unlike a narrative essay, the purpose of writing this essay is only to inform the readers.

Writing this essay type can be deceivingly tricky. Some terms, concepts, and objects have concrete definitions when explained. In contrast others are solely based on the writer’s understanding and point of view.

A definition essay requires a writer to use different approaches when discussing a term. These approaches are the following:

  • Denotation - It is when you provide a literal or academic definition of the term.
  • Connotation - It is when the writer provides an implied meaning or definition of the term.
  • Enumeration - For this approach, a list is employed to define a term or a concept.
  • Analogy - It is a technique in which something is defined by implementing a comparison.
  • Negation - It is when you define a term by stating what it is not.

A single or combination of approaches can be used in the essay. 

Definition Essay Types

There are several types of definition essays that you may be asked to write, depending on the purpose and scope of the assignment. 

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common types of definition essays.

Descriptive Definition Essay 

This type of essay provides a detailed description of a term or concept, emphasizing its key features and characteristics. 

The goal of a descriptive definition essay is to help readers understand the term or concept in a more profound way.

Stipulative Definition Essay 

In a stipulative definition essay, the writer provides a unique definition of a term or concept. This type of essay is often used in academic settings to define a term in a particular field of study. 

The goal of a stipulative definition essay is to provide a precise and clear definition that is specific to the context of the essay.

Analytical Definition Essay 

This compare and contrast essay type involves analyzing a term or concept in-depth. Breaking it down into its component parts, and examining how they relate to each other. 

The goal of an analytical definition essay is to provide a more nuanced and detailed understanding of the term or concept being discussed.

Persuasive Definition Essay 

A persuasive definition essay is an argumentative essay that aims to persuade readers to accept a particular definition of a term or concept.

The writer presents their argument for the definition and uses evidence and examples to support their position.

Explanatory Definition Essay 

An explanatory definition essay is a type of expository essay . It aims to explain a complex term or concept in a way that is easy to understand for the reader. 

The writer breaks down the term or concept into simpler parts and provides examples and analogies to help readers understand it better.

Extended Definition Essay 

An extended definition essay goes beyond the definition of a word or concept and provides a more in-depth analysis and explanation. 

The goal of an extended definition essay is to provide a comprehensive understanding of a term, concept, or idea. This includes its history, origins, and cultural significance. 

How to Write a Definition Essay?

Writing a definition essay is simple if you know the correct procedure. This essay, like all the other formal pieces of documents, requires substantial planning and effective execution.

The following are the steps involved in writing a definition essay effectively:

Instead of choosing a term that has a concrete definition available, choose a word that is complicated . Complex expressions have abstract concepts that require a writer to explore deeper. Moreover, make sure that different people perceive the term selected differently. 

Once you have a word to draft your definition essay for, read the dictionary. These academic definitions are important as you can use them to compare your understanding with the official concept.

Drafting a definition essay is about stating the dictionary meaning and your explanation of the concept. So the writer needs to have some information about the term.

In addition to this, when exploring the term, make sure to check the term’s origin. The history of the word can make you discuss it in a better way.

Coming up with an exciting title for your essay is important. The essay topic will be the first thing that your readers will witness, so it should be catchy.

Creatively draft an essay topic that reflects meaning. In addition to this, the usage of the term in the title should be correctly done. The readers should get an idea of what the essay is about and what to expect from the document.

Now that you have a topic in hand, it is time to gather some relevant information. A definition essay is more than a mere explanation of the term. It represents the writer’s perception of the chosen term and the topic.

So having only personal opinions will not be enough to defend your point. Deeply research and gather information by consulting credible sources.

The gathered information needs to be organized to be understandable. The raw data needs to be arranged to give a structure to the content.

Here's a generic outline for a definition essay:

Are you searching for an in-depth guide on crafting a well-structured definition essay?Check out this definition essay outline blog!

6. Write the First Draft

Drafting each section correctly is a daunting task. Understanding what or what not to include in these sections requires a writer to choose wisely.

The start of your essay matters a lot. If it is on point and attractive, the readers will want to read the text. As the first part of the essay is the introduction , it is considered the first impression of your essay.

To write your definition essay introduction effectively, include the following information:

  • Start your essay with a catchy hook statement that is related to the topic and the term chosen.
  • State the generally known definition of the term. If the word chosen has multiple interpretations, select the most common one.
  • Provide background information precisely. Determine the origin of the term and other relevant information.
  • Shed light on the other unconventional concepts and definitions related to the term.
  • Decide on the side or stance you want to pick in your essay and develop a thesis statement .

After briefly introducing the topic, fully explain the concept in the body section . Provide all the details and evidence that will support the thesis statement. To draft this section professionally, add the following information:

  • A detailed explanation of the history of the term.
  • Analysis of the dictionary meaning and usage of the term.
  • A comparison and reflection of personal understanding and the researched data on the concept.

Once all the details are shared, give closure to your discussion. The last paragraph of the definition essay is the conclusion . The writer provides insight into the topic as a conclusion.

The concluding paragraphs include the following material:

  • Summary of the important points.
  • Restated thesis statement.
  • A final verdict on the topic.

7. Proofread and Edit

Although the writing process ends with the concluding paragraph, there is an additional step. It is important to proofread the essay once you are done writing. Proofread and revise your document a couple of times to make sure everything is perfect.

Before submitting your assignment, make edits, and fix all mistakes and errors.

If you want to learn more about how to write a definition essay, here is a video guide for you!

Definition Essay Structure 

The structure of a definition essay is similar to that of any other academic essay. It should consist of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

However, the focus of a definition essay is on defining and explaining a particular term or concept. 

In this section, we will discuss the structure of a definition essay in detail.


Get the idea of writing an introduction for a definition essay with this example:

Body Paragraphs

Here is an example of how to craft your definition essay body paragraph:

Types of the Term/Concept 

If applicable, the writer may want to include a section that discusses the different types or categories of the term or concept being defined. 

This section should explain the similarities and differences between the types, using examples and anecdotes to illustrate the points.

Examples of the Term/Concept in Action 

The writer should also include real-life examples of the term or concept being defined in action. 

This will help the reader better understand the term or concept in context and how it is used in everyday life.


This example will help you writing a conclusion fo you essay:

Definition Essay Examples

It is important to go through some examples and samples before writing an essay. This is to understand the writing process and structure of the assigned task well.

Following are some examples of definition essays to give our students a better idea of the concept. 

Understanding the Definition Essay

Definition Essay Example

Definition Essay About Friendship

Definition Essay About Love

Family Definition Essay

Success Definition Essay

Beauty Definition Essay

Definition Essay Topics

Selecting the right topic is challenging for other essay types. However, picking a suitable theme for a definition essay is equally tricky yet important. Pick an interesting subject to ensure maximum readership.

If you are facing writer’s block, here is a list of some great definition essay topics for your help. Choose from the list below and draft a compelling essay.

  • Authenticity
  • Sustainability
  • Mindfulness

Here are some more extended definition essay topics:

  • Social media addiction
  • Ethical implications of gene editing
  • Personalized learning in the digital age
  • Ecosystem services
  • Cultural assimilation versus cultural preservation
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Gender equality in the workplace
  • Financial literacy and its impact on personal finance
  • Ethical considerations in artificial intelligence
  • Welfare state and social safety nets

Need more topics? Check out this definition essay topics blog!

Definition Essay Writing Tips

Knowing the correct writing procedure is not enough if you are not aware of the essay’s small technicalities. To help students write a definition essay effortlessly, expert writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some simple tips.

These easy tips will make your assignment writing phase easy.

  • Choose an exciting yet informative topic for your essay.
  • When selecting the word, concept, or term for your essay, make sure you have the knowledge.
  • When consulting a dictionary for the definition, provide proper referencing as there are many choices available.
  • To make the essay informative and credible, always provide the origin and history of the term.
  • Highlight different meanings and interpretations of the term.
  • Discuss the transitions and evolution in the meaning of the term in any.
  • Provide your perspective and point of view on the chosen term.

Following these tips will guarantee you better grades in your academics.

By following the step-by-step approach explained in this guide, you will acquire the skills to craft an outstanding essay. 

Still, if you want to take your essay writing to the next level, CollegeEssay.org is here to assist you. 

Our essay writer online is here to help you craft exceptional essays that meet your specific requirements. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to us for personalized writing service .

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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Learn How to Use Extended Definitions in Essays and Speeches

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In a paragraph , essay , or speech , an extended definition is an explanation and/or illustration of a word, thing, or concept.

Randy Devillez in "Step by Step College Writing" says that an extended definition can be "as short as a paragraph or two or as long as several hundred pages (such as a legal definition of obscene )."

Seek out the following for some good examples of extended definition in writing:

"A Definition of a Gentleman" by John Henry Newman from a lecture given in Ireland in 1852.

"A Definition of a Jerk," is a 1961 essay written by Sydney J. Harris.

"Gifts," is an 1844 essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet, philosopher, and essayist.

"Happiness," was first published in 1961 in the "Report to Greco," by Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis.

Lists and Anaphora in "Pioneers: A View of Home" by Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr., an award-winning African-American poet, writer, and activist.

"The Meaning of Home" was published in 1984 by John Berger , poet, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter. 


"An extended definition may explain the word's etymology or historical roots, describe sensory characteristics of something (how it looks, feels, sounds, tastes, smells), identify its parts, indicate how something is used, explain what it is not, provide an example of it, and/or note similarities or differences between this term and other words or things," notes Stephen Reid in "The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers."

Introduction to an Extended Definition: Family

In "The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought," Marilynne Robinson points out that "We are all aware that 'family' is a word which eludes definition, as do other important things, like nation, race, culture, gender, species; like art, science, virtue, vice, beauty, truth, justice, happiness, religion; like success; like intelligence. The attempt to impose a definition on indeterminacy and degree and exception is about the straightest road to mischief I know of, very deeply worn, very well traveled to this day. But just for the purposes of this discussion, let us say: one’s family are those toward whom one feels loyalty and obligation, and/or from whom one derives identity, and/or to whom one gives identity, and/or with whom one shares habits, tastes, stories, customs, memories. This definition allows for families of circumstance and affinity as well as kinship, and it allows also for the existence of people who are incapable of family, though they may have parents and siblings and spouses and children."

An Extended Definition of Damned

In the film, "Cold Comfort Farm," actor Ian McKellen plays the part of Amos Starkadder, who says: "You're all damned! Damned! Do you ever stop to think what that word means? No, you don't. It means endless, horrifying torment! It means your poor, sinful bodies stretched out on red-hot gridirons in the nethermost, fiery pit of hell, and those demons mocking ye while they wave cooling jellies in front of ye. You know what it's like when you burn your hand, taking a cake out of the oven, or lighting one of them godless cigarettes? And it stings with a fearful pain, aye? And you run to clap a bit of butter on it to take the pain away, aye? Well, I'll tell ye: there'll be no butter in hell!"

Composing an Extended Definition of Democracy

"Sometimes,...particularly when we are thinking seriously about a complicated concept, such as democracy, we use a definition as the basis for an entire theme; that is, we write what may be called an extended definition," says Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren in "Modern Rhetoric."

Purposes of an Extended Definition

Barbara Fine Clouse explains that an extended definition can also serve a persuasive purpose. "More often than not, an extended definition informs . Sometimes you inform by clarifying something that is complex.... A definition can also inform by bringing the reader to a fresh appreciation of something familiar or taken for granted...."

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. Modern Rhetoric . Abridged 3rd ed., Harcourt, 1972.

Clouse, Barbara Fine. Patterns for a Purpose: A Rhetorical Reader . 3 rd ed., McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Devillez, Randy. Step by Step College Writing . Kendall/Hunt, 1996.

McKellen, Ian, actor as Amos Starkadder in “Cold Comfort Farm.” BBC Films, 1995.

Reid, Stephen. The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers . Prentice Hall, 1995.

Robinson, Marilynne. “Family .” The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought . Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

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  • 30 Writing Topics: Persuasion
  • Understanding Organization in Composition and Speech
  • Unity in Composition
  • Understanding General-to-Specific Order in Composition
  • Process Analysis in Composition
  • Margin (Composition Format) Definition
  • What Are the Different Types and Characteristics of Essays?

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Common Writing Assignments

9 The Extended Definition Essay

The extended definition essay presents a detailed account of a single term or concept that is central to the content of the course for which the essay is written. What is cryptocurrency? What is a black hole? What is an algorithm? What is symbolism? What is deoxyribonucleic acid? What is National Socialism? Every subject has its own special vocabulary, and teachers will often assign an essay requiring students to present a detailed definition of a key term.

Read carefully this extended definition of feminism.

Example: On Feminism

The word “feminism” describes a popular movement for social justice, based on the premise that women have been and continue to be systemically oppressed by men who do not want to share the greater social, political, and economic power they have historically possessed. But the definition of feminism extends beyond raising the status of one gender; feminism recognizes that equal standards for all people regardless of gender will benefit society as a whole (Montgomery). In this respect, feminism can be interpreted as synonymous with egalitarianism.

Feminist scholars divide the movement into three phases or “Waves.”  First-wave feminism emerged in the early twentieth century in the form of a fight for the rights to vote, to own property, and to qualify for work in fields historically reserved for men. Second-wave feminism emerged in the 1960s as baby boomers entered university and demanded admission to programs that traditionally favoured men, such as engineering, medicine, and forestry, as well as “equal pay for work of equal value” (Montgomery).  Third-wave or post-feminism is the movement’s twenty-first century incarnation, devoted essentially to ending all forms of gender discrimination. Some even argue that a fourth wave has recently emerged, one that is concerned with the portrayal of women in social media.

While there is no clear consensus as to when first-wave feminism began, most accept that it emerged as industrialization progressed in the nineteenth century. Martha Lear coined the term in 1968, though the first wave focused on what we now consider basic issues of inequality (“What Was”). One of the earliest feminists was Mary Wollstonecraft, who mostly wrote in the late eighteenth century advocating that societies, and individuals specifically, should have rights that the state provides. Most other philosophers and writers of the time ignored women and Wollstonecraft was among the first to call for gender equality. After the American Civil War, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony rallied support for what they saw as one of the first great obstacles to greater freedom: the right to vote. Others, such as Barbara Leigh Smith, saw employment and education for women as critical areas to focus on.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Biblical interpretation of women’s role in the house and family prevented their ability to advance feminist ideals. To counteract the power of the church’s sex-based hierarchy, Stanton produced an influential work called The Woman’s Bible , in which she argued for equality using biblical references. This helped to provide religious justification, at least for some, for emerging feminism in the period. Furthermore, the National Woman Suffrage Association became a prominent organization, and in 1869, John Allen Campbell, the governor of Wyoming, became the first governor to grant women the right to vote (“What Was”). And when women replaced men in factories during the First World War, many realized that women did have equal skills to men. In Canada, women won the right to vote in most provinces during the war. In 1921, Agnes Macphail became the first woman in Canada elected to Parliament.

In the US, women had to wait a bit longer. Feminist organizations lobbied indefatigably and eventually convinced Congress that women should have the right to vote. Finally, in 1920, women won the right to vote across the United States. While the process itself was contentious, featuring hunger strikes and even mob violence, the gradual acceptance of women as voters can be considered the culminating success of first-wave feminism.

“The Progressive Era” took place in the 1930s; women’s social and political activism grew, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for the appointment of women to positions within the administration. Her cause was further advanced during the Second World War when, again, women had to take over the work enlisted men were forced to abandon. After the war, however, North America saw a new emphasis on domesticity. When the soldiers returned, women were almost uniformly fired and forced back into their duties of domestic chores and child-raising (Bisignani). Second-wave feminism was a reaction to this post-war obsession with the ideal of the contented housewife and suburban domesticity, a lifestyle that often isolated women and severely limited their choices and opportunities.

Feminism’s second wave truly began in the early 1960s and focused not just on legal barriers to civil equality but also examined social inequalities. Second-wave feminists sought to change discriminatory policies on sexuality and sexual identity; marriage and child-rearing; workplace environment; reproductive rights; and violence against women. They formed local, regional, and federal government groups on behalf of women, resulting in human rights and women’s equality becoming a growing part of the North American political agenda. Finally, they created new, more positive images of women in both pop culture and the media to fight the negative stereotypes commonly in circulation, primarily that of the “happy housewife.”

The second wave of feminism included many landmark moments. In the 1960s, many government health agencies approved the oral contraceptive pill, and in 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed in the US. In 1968, Coretta Scott King assumed leadership of the African-American civil rights movement and expanded the platform to include women’s rights. This led to Shirley Chisholm becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress. In 1972, the passage of Title IX ensured equal funding for women’s opportunities in education, and the first women’s studies program in the US opened at San Diego State University. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the second wave came in 1973, when the Roe v. Wade case resulted in women’s access to safe and legal abortion (Bisignani).

Third-wave feminism began in the 1990s and still exists today (Demarco). There are many different outlets and angles of feminism now, but the most important values of the third wave include gender equality, identity, language, sex positivity, breaking the glass ceiling, body positivity, ending violence against women, fixing the media’s image of women, and environmentalism.

Third-wave feminists assert that there is no universal identity for women; women come from every religion, nationality, culture, and sexual preference. Different forms of media such as fashion magazines, newspapers, and television favour white, young, slender women, a fact which negatively impacts all women and results in body anxiety. To combat this anxiety, modern feminists have fought for body positivity, quashing the opinions of those who believe that overweight people are lazy and unhealthy. Feminists want society’s view of women to expand, to recognize, for example, that it is possible to be beautiful enough to be a model, but also smart enough to be an astronaut or a CEO.  But considering that, in 2017, only 18 out of 500 Fortune CEOs and 22 out of 197 global heads of state were women, it is clear that third-wave feminism has not yet removed the glass ceiling (Demarco).

The emerging fourth wavers speak in terms of “intersectionality,” whereby women’s oppression can only fully be understood in the context of marginalization of other groups, who are victims of racism, ageism, classism, and homophobia (Demarco). Among the third wave’s bequests is the importance of inclusion; in the fourth wave, the internet takes inclusion further by levelling hierarchies. The appeal of the fourth wave is that there is a place in it for everyone. The academic and theoretical apparatus are now well-honed and ready to support new broad-based activism in the home, in the workplace, on the streets, and online.

No one is sure how feminism will progress from here. The movement has always included many political, social and intellectual ideologies, each with its own tensions, points and counterpoints. But the fact that each wave has been chaotic, multi-valanced, and disconcerted is cause for optimism; it is a sign that the movement continues to thrive.

Works Cited

Bisignani, Dana. “ Feminism’s Second Wave .” The Gender Press , 27 Jan. 2015, https://genderpressing.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/feminisms-second-wave-2/. Accessed 25 March 2019.

Demarco, April. “ What Is Third Wave Feminist Movement? ” Viva Media , 17 March 2018, https://viva.media/what-is-third-wave-feminist-movement.  Accessed 26 March 2019.

Montgomery, Landon. “ The True Definition Of Feminism .” The Odyssey , 8 March 2016, https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-true-definition-of-feminism. Accessed 27 March 2019.

“ What Was the First Wave Feminist Movement? ” Daily History , 19 Jan. 2019, https://dailyhistory.org/What_was_the_First_Wave_Feminist_Movement%3F. Accessed 28 March 2019.

On Feminism

Study Questions

Respond to these questions in writing, in small group discussion, or both.

  • “On Feminism” is an extended definition essay, but it has qualities of what other rhetorical modes explained in this chapter?
  • What are the main differences between first- and second-wave feminism?
  • What are the main differences between third- and fourth-wave feminism?
  • Respond to the conclusions the author offers in her final paragraph. Do you agree with what she writes?
  • In academic writing assignments, paragraphs should be unified, coherent, and well-developed. Analyze two body paragraphs from this essay, commenting on the qualities of effective paragraphs they illustrate.

Writing Assignment

Write an extended definition of approximately 750 words on one of the following terms: Marxism, irony (in literature), recession (in economics), pentathlon (as Olympic sport), dressage, algorithm, neutral zone trap, cryptocurrency. You may also select your own topic or one provided by your teacher.

Composition and Literature by James Sexton and Derek Soles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Ultimate Guide on Definition Essay: Writing Guide, Topics, Examples

Ultimate Guide on Definition Essay: Writing Guide, Topics, Examples

What is  a definition essay

What is the purpose of a definition essay, difference between definition and definition essay.

  • Definition essay structure

Definition essay outline

Approaches to defining a term.

  • How to write a definition essay
  • Ideas for definition essay topics

Definition essay topics for college

Interesting definition essay topics, common topics for definition essay, definition essay topics on love, definition essay topics on family, definition essay topics on freedom, definition essay topics on happiness.

  • Extended definition essay examples

Pro tips for an outstanding definition essay

Things to be added to your extended definition paper:, things to avoid in a definition essay:.

  • Where to get a definition essay without writing it

You have definitely learned some definitions at school and college or even had to give your own definition of some terms or things. You know that definitions are usually short and consist of one to three sentences. But now you’ve got a task to write the whole definition essay. Have no idea how to write more than three sentences and what are the definition essay parts? Do not worry! Read on to learn about the peculiarities of essay structure, check the topics, and see examples. Or pay someone to do my homework at a whole new level. 

Definition essay , also referred to as extended definition essay, is the type of academic writing that presupposes giving definition of a particular notion, term, concept, or phenomenon. It is much longer and specific than a simple definition. Definition essay provides different meanings of the word, both denotative and connotative, explains peculiarities of its uses, and offers examples. It may define some specific things such as a car, door, bad as well as abstract things, such as love, success, freedom, happiness.

One word can have different meanings in different domains of life, which are sometime controversial. The purpose of a definition essay is not just to provide a short explanation of a notion, but to mention all the possible meanings and usages of a words and specify the difference between those meaning and usages.

When it comes to defining some abstract notions, such as love, home, or family, the extended definition essay may also include the meaning of that word to the author, which cannot be found in dictionaries. Our American dream essay can be a good example for this kind of writing. Pay attention to different writing tricks and implement them in your work.

Be sure, definition and definition essay are two different things. Definition essay is much more specific and wider notion than just a definition.

  • Definition  is a statement of a specific meaning of a word.
  • Extended definition essay  provides all the possible meanings of the word (denotative and connotative), explains difference between them and their usage, provides examples, and offers author’s understanding of that word.

Definition essay structure 

Definition essay is a type of expository essay. Thus, it has a classical essay structure, which consists of 5 components: introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion.

A typical extended definition essay outline looks as follows:

Introduction of a definition essay

  • Start with a sentence that will spark the reader’s interest to read your essay. Usually it is called a hook. It might be an anecdote , a funny story, an interesting fact, or your personal experience.
  • Provide background information 
  • Specify the term, notion, concept, etc. you will define in your essay
  • Thesis statement of a definition essay is a short definition of a term or notion you are going to discuss in your writing 

Body paragraphs (at least three)

  • Provide different approaches to defining a meaning of a chosen word
  • Present only one approach per paragraph
  • Provide example for each definition
  • If the definitions have slight differences clearly define them and exemplify
  • Make sure to include a topic sentence in each paragraph

Conclusion of a definition essay

  • In the conclusion part summarize all the main points you have mentioned in your essay. Please do not just repeat or copy-paste, but analyze and synthesize.

There exist different approaches to defining a term. Here are the most common techniques:

  • Denotation - providing a dictionary definition
  • Connotation - mentioning implied meaning of a term
  • Enumeration - giving a list of all the possible meanings
  • Analogy or analysis - comparing and contrasting similar notions from the same class of a word you define
  • By function - defining the term by the functions it performs
  • By structure - defining the term by explaining how it is organized
  • Negation   - is  proving a definition of a term by explaining what it is not

How to write a definition essay 

If you do not know how to start writing a definition essay, we have created a logical algorithm for you.

  • Choose the word you are going to define
  • Consider your audience. Make sure that the term you have chosen is relevant, that it will be interesting for them, and that you will be able to explain it to them. 
  • Make a research and check the definitions of that word in different dictionaries
  • Also check the origin of the term you define. It might help you understand the word better and can also serve as a hook.
  • Create a definition essay thesis statement. It is a short definition of your word.
  • Write an introductory part in which you should add a hook sentence, specify the word to be defined, and include a thesis statement, i.e. short definition
  • In the body paragraphs present different meaning of a a word by using different approaches. If the term has diverse or contradicting definitions in some contexts or areas of life, clearly explain those differences and give examples.
  • If you are defining some abstract concepts (such as love or happiness), give your own definition and understanding of that word.
  • In the concluding part, restate the thesis statement and summarize all the main points of an essay.
  • Proofread your paper for grammar, formatting, or stylistic mistakes and plagiarism.

Need to write a 1000 word essay ? Worries no. We prepared a special blog for our users that will help to solve this issue.

Ideas for definition essay topics 

We have collected the most interesting ideas of definition essay topics for your inspiration:

  • What is the meaning of education for you
  • What person do you consider education
  • Is cheating a crime?
  • What is beauty?
  • What makes a good student
  • Who is a good/bad professor
  • A teacher is always a student?
  • Laziness and success are incompatible
  • Wealth is abundance?
  • Creativity is inborn or acquired?
  • A person considers happiness to be something they cannot get
  • What does it mean to be kind?
  • What is a balance in life?
  • Who are good parents?
  • Can generosity be measured?
  • Does the universe have boundaries?
  • What it means to be respected
  • Who is a hero?
  •  Is a hero always a positive character?

You may browse different types of topics to come up with some interesting ideas. Start with informative essay topics you will find in our library.

  • Can advertisements be considered an art?
  • What is hatred?
  • Can trust be defined
  • American dream definition
  • What is respect?
  • What is wisdom?
  • Wisdom comes with age only?
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Parental love
  • Is love the same as devotion
  • Passion and love - synonyms?
  • Universal meaning of love. Does it exist?
  • What does it mean to feel loved
  • Sharing is caring?
  • Definition of love in poetry
  • Ways to express love
  • Perfect family
  • Can friends be called a family?
  • Family values
  • What makes a family
  • Two people are a family?
  • What family means in a XXI family?
  • What makes up a family
  • Blood relation is the only criteria for a group of people to be called a family?
  • What is freedom for you?
  • Definition of freedom in literature
  • What is considered freedom in a XXI century?
  • Freedom is independence?
  • Love is freedom?
  • What is freedom of speech?
  • Can freedom be stolen?
  • Freedom at the times of slavery
  • What is a happiness for you
  • Happiness is abstract or material?
  • Can happiness be measured?
  • What do you feel when you are  happy?
  • What is a happy marriage?
  • Happiness in books
  • Happiness as a state of mind
  • Happiness is myth?

Extended definition essay examples 

To have a better understanding of how a definition essay looks like, we have added definition essay examples for your inspiration.

Definition essay sample about happiness.

Extended definition essay about love.

Consider the essay tips from professional writers that will help you make your definition essay interesting, clear, and effective

  • Consider your audience when choosing and defining the term
  • Make sure that you understand the notion you define
  • The word you have chosen should be complex enough to be defined in an essay
  • Provide anecdotes, facts, and examples that will be clear for you and your audience.
  • Explain a difficult term using common words
  • If the word is complex, divide it into parts and explain each part separately
  • Do not define two different notions in one essay
  • Do not take a too broad or narrow concept
  • Do not forget to mention the term being defined
  • Do not use repetitive sentence structures (such as Happiness is..)

Where to get a definition essay without writing it 

Now, you are almost a pro and the only thing left to to is to take your time and write your definition essay. If you need essay writing help or a person who can choose an interesting topic for your definition essay, try essay writing help. Our expert writers can complete any type of essay for you based on the instructions you provide. We have experts in different fields who will be able to define and explain the term of any complexity. Save your time and receive an A+.

When your rhetorical analysis essay is due next week, you cannot escape this problem anymore. Further procrastination will lead to the failing grade. As far as each paper matters for your final score per course, it is important to catch up with all deadlines.You may face this kind of assignment for ...

What is a classification essay? Students often write this paper in social and science studies. If you need to complete this assignment, but you don’t know how to write a classification essay, there’s no need to panic. To answer the question what is a classification essay, the first thing that you sh...

“Today, I would like to introduce several facts about myself you did not know. For instance, I had never told before that I used to volunteer my first salary to the organization that helps mentally sick children? I am a great painter. Out of all memories, I will share the most vivid episodes of my l...

Definition Essay: A Powerful Guide to Writing an Excellent Paper

A definition essay is a type of academic writing that explains what a term or a concept means.

What Is a Definition Essay?

What a definition essay is a piece of writing (see all essay types ) that explains what a term or a concept means. Some words 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.

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

3 Steps to a Powerful Definition Essay

When you start writing a definition essay, follow 3 main steps.

Definition Essay

Choosing Ideas for Writing a Definition Essay

Choosing the definition is a key step in writing a definition essay. You need to understand the term used for your definition paper and make sure it’s easy-to-understand by others. Read the dictionary, but don’t just copy the definition. Explain the term’s meaning briefly in your own words. Besides, it is important to limit your term before you start defining it. For example, you could write forever on such definition essay topics as “love”, “money”, “power”, or friendship. 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 definition writing, feel free to contact our writing service. You can also read an article on How to Pick Proper Essay Topics.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Outline and Format

The definition essay outline format is similar to that of a typical essay and includes several unique characteristics. Typically, it includes the introduction, body, and conclusion parts. A definition essay is a good option when you want to learn about the classic college essay structure. Here is a detailed focus on each section.

Definition Essay: Introduction

Start with one of the various techniques, such as a short anecdote, a peculiar fact, a quote, or an open-ended question. Your introduction should conclude with a clear, precise thesis statement that tells your readers just what the essay will discuss. All body paragraphs directly support the thesis statement. The thesis statement usually identifies the term being defined and provides a brief, basic definition.

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

The Impact of Social Media in Our Daily Lives Smoking in Public Places Should Be Banned

Definition Essay: Body Paragraphs

Create a thorough definition. There are several ways on h ow to write a definition essay about a certain term. Here are a few options.

Use understandable facts, examples, or anecdotes. Select the ones that can 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 to 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:

Dos and Donts of a Definition Essay Writing

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

Definition Types Frequently Used in Essays

Just as you pick a term or concept to define, a question might arise – which type of definition, exactly, could help you define a chosen term in the best possible way?

We’d like to recommend you 7 types of definitions you can use to write your essay:

  • Analytical: Analyze the term by breaking it down into the smallest elements and define each of the elements in particular. 
  • Classification: Define a term from the point of view of classes to which a term or its elements belong.
  • Comparison: Compare and contrast several terms or concepts, or their constituent parts against each other.
  • Details: Each term can be defined based on its peculiar details or characteristic features. 
  • Negation: It’s a witty move to define a term by explaining what it isn’t. 
  • Origins & Causes: Define a term or concept by describing its origins, historical background, and causes.
  • Results, Effects, & Uses: Define a term by telling about its causes, results, effects, and possible uses. 

Now let’s move on from theory to practice. 

We’d like to share a couple of useful definition essay examples and examples for your inspirational and practical writing needs as well as provide some nifty hints and tips.   

Definition Essay on Love

Everyone wants to love and be loved. Love is the most powerful feeling we have. If you can’t decide which topic to choose, always go for Love. Should you offer readers an interesting perspective on love (e.g., Causes & Effects of Love from the Point of View of Neurochemistry ), you’ll definitely hit the right chords with your definition essay.    

Check out 5 interesting love definition essay topics to write about in 2023:

  • Love vs Hate: What Do These Feelings Have in Common?
  • Mother’s Love
  • How Love Affects the Way We Think and Behave?
  • What Is True Love? 
  • Stages of Love as a Chemical Process Inside Our Brain

Have a look at a love definition essay example for you to use for your inspirational and reference needs.  

[Definition Sample]

Happiness Definition Essay

What is happiness? For someone, happiness is to love and be loved. For others, happiness is being rich and being able to afford things other people can’t. And for some of us, happiness is freedom: freedom to love, freedom to self-express, and freedom to be who we are. 

Everyone sees happiness differently, and that’s why this topic is so interesting to define. 

Here are some of the examples of happiness definition essay, which will definitely inspire you:

  • Happiness Is a Chemical Process
  • What Causes Happiness?  
  • How to Be Happy?
  • The Secrets of the Happiest Man on Earth
  • Marital Happiness  

In case you’re interested, we’ve prepared a couple of happiness definition essay samples you can read and get new ideas for your own essay.

[ Definition Sample -1 Definition Sample-2 ]

Family Definition Essay

Our family is the closest people we have in this world. People we love and people we’re happy with. Some of us didn’t have a family and some of us have pretty large and close families. Family is a broad concept and can offer you a plethora of topic options to choose from.

Some of the most inspiring family definition essay topics are the following:

  • 2023 Core Family Values
  • Why Do Families Break Up?
  • How to Be a Parent in Your 16s?
  • The Perfect American Family
  • American vs European Family Values
  • My Family Values 
  • How to Grow up Having no Family?
  • Being a Single Parent
  • College & Parenting 

If you need a good example of a family definition essay, we’ve just got what you need!

[ Definition Sample ]

Freedom Definition Essay

We as Americans do love our freedom! We celebrate it, we cherish it, and we fight for it against everyone who wants to take freedom from us. But what freedom is for some of us, for others is anarchy and vice versa, especially in 2023. 

The First Amendment grants us the freedom of belief, the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom to petition the government if our freedoms are violated.

Check out the most inspiring freedom definition essay topics to take into consideration in 2023:

  • The Bill of Rights and The First Amendment
  • Freedom vs Anarchy
  • What’s a Lawless State?
  • Rioting and Looting as Perversion of Freedom 
  • What Socialism Is and What Democracy Isn’t 
  • Freedoms They Took Away From us During COVID-19 Pandemic 
  • Restriction of Liberty

Our essay writers prepared some freedom essay samples you can download for free.  

Easy Definition Essay Topics

On one of those slow days, you need nothing more than an easy definition essay topic. 

These definition essay topics are as easy as they can get:

  • Importance of College Education
  • Trump vs Biden 
  • My First Love
  • Communism vs Capitalism  
  • Who Is a Hero of the Day?
  • Most Well-Paid Jobs in 2023
  • My Definition of Success? 
  • Definition of a Good Essay 
  • My Perfect Date 
  • First Day at Work 

These topics are so easy you don’t want to even have a sample. Just sit down and do some good buy college essays online in the evening. 

Extended Definition Essay Topics

An extended definition essay deals with broad terms only. If a term or concept has only one meaning or connotation, it couldn’t be used for the purposes of an extended definition. 

Sounds a bit confusing? Then let’s see a couple of extended definition topics so you could easily make sense of it faster. 

  • The Government Is Watching Us
  • Marvel Antagonists Aren’t All Bad “People”
  • Trump Isn’t Too Awful a President 
  • The Many Faces of Generosity
  • Why the Rainforests Destruction Should Be Prohibited?
  • What Feminism Really Isn’t 
  • CIA Actually Operates on the US Soil 
  • How to Be Rich?  

BTW, an example of an extended definition essay is available right here!

Definition Essay Ideas for Business

Is an MBA your major? Then there’s a 100% chance that you’ll have to write a definition essay on business or two! Focus on such subjects as e-commerce, startups, investments, Forex, cryptocurrency, macro and microeconomics, etc. 

It might be a good idea to write your definition essay about:

  • Karl Marx, The Capital  
  • How to Explain the Meaning of Blockchain to a 60-year-old?
  • YouTube Economy
  • How Do Banks Work?
  • South African Economy 
  • Deming’s 14 Points of Total Quality Management
  • Essentials of Capitalism 
  • Who Are the 1%?
  • How to Start Your First Blog?
  • The Concept of Tax Evasion 

A great business definition essay example is available right here!

Definition Essay Ideas for Science & IT

Programming used to be a closed club for nerds and tech-gurus who did everything from fixing broken Xeros to creating a web-site or developing accounting software. 

Today we have web-coders, software developers, programmers, Scrum masters, project managers, hackathons, startup culture, incubators, and plenty of other IT-related terms you can define in an essay. 

Here are some of the topics about Science and IT that might inspire you:

  • Lean Startup
  • MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
  • Where to Start Learning Programming?
  • Programmers vs Developers 
  • Major Types of Web Coding Languages 
  • 5 Most Well-Paid IT Jobs in 2023
  • How Hindu Programming Code Is Different?
  • Modern Coding Patterns
  • Python vs Java 
  • What Is GPU?
  • What Is a Processing Core?
  • Big Data Analysis 

An example definition essay on Science & IT is available for you to read and use for writing your own composition.  

Have neither time nor desire to write any definition essay? It’s time to call our skilled and talented college writers and order your custom definition essay for an affordable price!

Persuasive Essay

The primary purpose of persuasive essay is to persuade or convince the reader that a certain claim or viewpoint is right. A persuasive essay can be written from either a subjective or an objective point of view simply because persuasion is found in a variety…

Full list of the most trending argumentative essay topics

Top-50 topics you would love to work on PLUS useful tips on writing a flawless argumentative essay. As you may already know, an argumentative essay is a writing genre where the student establishes a position on a given or chosen topic and then uses evidence…

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how to start an extended definition essay

How to Write a Definition Essay: New Guide with Samples

how to start an extended definition essay

Understanding What is a Definition Essay

Eristic sophistry was employed by the ultracrepidarian in his quidnunc attempt to impress the aeolist crowd at the symposium.

Be honest, how many times did you read the above sentence to get a gist of it? We bet at least more than once. You might even got a little annoyed trying to make sense of it. Well, that's exactly what brings us to today's main subject, which is to understand the importance of defining things that are not so popular or easy to explain.

Humans have a natural instinct to understand concepts and words when placed in the proper context. However, that might not always be the case. To avoid getting lost in translation, we must understand the words we communicate and be able to explain them to others as well.

No wonder why definition essays are a common assignment in high school and college. However, for this kind of paper, you need to go the extra mile rather than just providing a dictionary definition of a certain word or concept. A definition essay is meant to describe a complex term that has significant background and historical origin.

To save you from wasting your valuable time figuring out what is a definition essay, let's explain frequently used definition essay types and steps for the writing process.

Commonly Used Definition Essay Types

Have you discovered an intriguing term with a rich past that you want to go into in your definition essay? Consider your options and what you can do with them before committing to them.

Following are some suggestions for structuring your definition essay from our rewrite essay service :

  • Analysis : Segment the argumentative essay definition topic into components, then define each component separately.
  • Classification : What categories does the problem fall under?
  • Comparison : Unusual things may be determined by showing how similar or different they are from usual things.
  • Details : What traits and other distinctive qualities best reflect the paper's central idea?
  • Negation : Explain what your narrative essay definition topic isn't to narrow down what it is.
  • Origins and Causes : Where did the theme first appear? What historical details are there? What is the background of the concept?
  • Results, Effects, and Uses : Describe the after-effects and uses of the subject.

How to Write a Definition Essay with a Definition Essay Outline

Just like other kinds of writing, a definition essay outline consists of a classic intro-body-conclusion format. However, in this scenario, what you discuss in the body paragraphs is unique and specific to other essays. For example, you can devote body sections to first providing a historical context, then explaining a dictionary definition; afterward, you can even discuss your personal opinion of the term while contrasting it with the expert definition in the other. Finally, you can also convey the term in terms of the cultural definition and implications.

To give you a more detailed outlook on how to write a definition essay, let's dive into the following sections prepared by our research paper writer .

Definition Essay Introduction

The reader is initially introduced to your essay's topic in the introductory part of a definition essay. This implies that it must be extremely informative and compelling enough to convince the reader to read the entire essay. So, the following elements should be included:

A. Hook: Use a catchy phrase or question to grab the reader's attention.

B. Background Information: Briefly explain the topic and why it's important to define it.

C. Thesis Statement: Clearly state the term and your definition of it.

Definition Essay Body Paragraphs

In the body of your essay, deconstruct the phrase into its component pieces, evaluate it from multiple viewpoints, and then give a relevant justification. Depending on the requirements of your assignment, you might need to write more than three paragraphs. You may add additional sections or swap the order around depending on the intricacy of your term. The following can be employed for the body:

A. Historical Definition: Explain the origin and evolution of the term.

B. Dictionary Definition: Provide the official definition and compare it to your own.

C. Personal Definition: Explain your understanding and interpretation of the term using examples and anecdotes.

D. Expert Definition: Cite an expert or scholar's definition and explain how it differs from yours.

E. Cultural Definition: Discuss how the term is used in popular culture and how it reflects societal values.

Definition Essay Conclusion

The final portion, the concluding paragraph, is where you must restate the main points. Follow these steps to structure the perfect ending:

A. Restate Thesis: Summarize your definition and why it matters.

B. Implications: Explain how understanding the term can inform our thinking and behavior.

C. Call to Action: Encourage readers to use the term correctly and to promote accurate definitions in their communities.

20 Definition Essay Topic Ideas

Our dissertation writing help compiled a list of definition essay topics you can use to base your upcoming paper on. From a definition argument essay to an expository essay definition, you can use the following ideas to create a well-structured piece.

  • Define the characteristics of the ideal family from your point of view.
  • What is the Picture of a Common American Family Show?
  • Politicians' Friendships as a Special Phenomenon
  • Comparing American Definitions of Freedom with Those of Other Nations
  • How Freedom Relates to Money
  • Give Your Personal Opinion on What Being Happy Means
  • Coping with Depression: What Does It Imply About Happiness?
  • Explain the Implications of Corporate Mergers.
  • Describe Maternity Leave and the Laws that Apply to It.
  • What Are Social Packages, and Why Do They Exist?
  • What Are Start-Ups, and How Are They Measured for Success?
  • What Would an Excellent Income Look Like in Contemporary America?
  • What Ideas and Practices Are Included in Math?
  • What are the responsibilities of a programmer?
  • Explain what heteronormativity is and discuss its history
  • How Might People Interpret the Concept of Brand Loyalty?
  • What Do You Consider to Be Personal and Global Success?
  • What Motivated People to Write Fanfiction?
  • Healthy Sleeping: How Many Hours Are Essential & What Dreams Are Desirable
  • Explain the Concept of Phobias and Define Its Components.

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Tips for Definition Essay Writing Process

Writing definition essay examples may be challenging since it requires creating a comprehensive description of a single term that is both scholarly and personal. Choosing a term that delivers enough information for the essay is important, and there are several traditional methods to ensure you understand what it means. The following rules from our essay writer should be kept in mind to create an excellent definition essay:

Pre-Writing Steps for a Definition Essay

  • Select a word with depth : You want to be informational and bring the new discussion to the table. Therefore, choose a word that is not generic, comes with an interesting background, and has multiple meanings. This way, you have plenty of room for discussion.
  • Use personal experiences : Include personal experiences from your life to provide an original viewpoint on the subject. Let's suppose 'success' is the term picked for the definition essay. You may add your personal experiences to the definition in place of merely referencing the dictionary to offer a distinctive take on the term. You may provide an instance when you succeeded in a certain goal but didn't feel completely satisfied. Then, you may make the case that success isn't just about attaining your goals but also about discovering inner fulfillment.
  • Employ sensory language : You may help the reader visualize the meaning of the term more vividly and clearly by employing sensory language. For instance, with the term 'love,' you may include descriptions of a warm embrace, the delicacy of Valentine's Day chocolate, the sound of a partner's laughing, or the sight of a sunset shared. This will make your definition essay more interesting and memorable while also improving the reader's comprehension.
  • Discuss connotations : Examine the positive and negative associations linked with the term and how they impact its usage. Understanding that words may have emotional implications and meanings beyond their formal definitions is crucial when discussing the good or negative connotations connected with a phrase. For instance, the term 'power' may be used to convey both good traits like strength and influence as well as bad traits like abuse and control.
  • Provide real-life examples : Real-world examples may be a useful tool in definition essays to assist explain and demonstrate the meaning of the term being defined. However, make sure the examples you choose for your essay apply to the defined concept. If you're explaining the word 'success,' for instance, you can decide to include instances of successful people from a variety of industries, including business, sports, or the arts.
  • Be creative : Using creativity may add interest and engagement to your essay. You may, for instance, employ metaphors, illustrations, or personification without restriction. Another method to be creative is to bring comedy and entertainment to your piece of writing.

Definition Essay Examples

To give you a more clear insight into what a good paper should look like, our custom essay service provided a definition essay example below. If you wish to base yours on this sample, feel free to scrutinize how this example is structured and formatted. Or you can always buy essay cheap and with the highest caliber on our platform!

Academic Writing Help

As we come to an end, we hope you gained a deep understanding of the definition essay structure and motivated you to compose your own definition paper. And no, we're not leaving you in the dark with the very first sentence of the article!

The person who didn't know much about the topic tried to impress the people at the gathering by using arguments that were not honest or accurate.

This is what we meant by that opening. So, if you don't wish to end up like such a person who has no clue about certain topics, use our academic writing help to your advantage. Order essay and let us create extended definition essay topics, a definition analytical essay, or any other forms of writing for you so that you may never feel confused and uninformed.

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How to Write a Definition Essay

Last Updated: April 13, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 449,878 times.

A definition essay requires you to write your own definition of a word. The definition must be thorough and well supported by research and evidence. You may have to write a definition essay for a class or try it as a writing challenge to help improve your English skills. Start by selecting and defining the word. Then, create a draft that presents a detailed definition using references and sources. Polish the essay when you are done so it flows well and does not contain any grammatical errors.

Selecting the Word

Step 1 Choose a concept or idea.

  • You can also pick a concept like “Success,” “Friendship,” or “Faith.”
  • Concepts like “Pain,” “Loss,” or “Death” are also good options.

Step 2 Avoid concrete objects or things.

  • You can try taking a concrete object and using a similar word to make it more open-ended. For example, the word “house” is concrete and obvious. But the word “home” is more open-ended and allows you to create your own definition of the word.

Step 3 Select a word you are familiar with.

  • For example, you may choose a word like “success” because you are familiar with the word and feel you may have a lot to say about what it means to be successful or to feel success in your life.

Step 4 Go for a word that can have a variety of meanings.

  • For example, you may choose a word like “pain” because you feel there are a variety of meanings for the word based on who you talk to and how they experience “pain” in their lives.

Defining the Word

Step 1 Look up the word in the dictionary.

  • For example, if you look up the word “justice” in the dictionary, you may get this definition: “noun, the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.”
  • You can then determine that “justice” is a noun and can be compared to other terms like “righteousness” and “moral rightness.”

Step 2 Research the origin of the word in encyclopedias.

  • For example, you may look up the word “justice” in an online encyclopedia that focuses on philosophy or law. You may then find information on Western theories of justice and how it became an important concept in Western history and the legal system.

Step 3 Search online for articles, websites, and videos that discuss the word.

  • Look on academic search engines like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and ProQuest for scholarly articles.
  • You can also look for educational videos that have been made about the word on YouTube and other video websites.

Step 4 Interview peers, family, and friends about the word.

  • “What comes to mind when you think of the word?”
  • “How do you feel about the word on a personal level?”
  • “How do you interact or deal with the word?”
  • “What does the word mean to you?”
  • Take notes or record the interviews so you can use them as sources in your essay.

Step 5 Create your own definition of the word.

  • For example, you may write: “Justice, a quality or trait where you act in a morally right way.” Or you may write: “Justice, a concept in the legal system where the fair or equitable thing is done, as in ‘justice has been served.’”
  • It's important to have tact and tread carefully here. It's important to preface your own definition of the word, making it clear that's a personal opinion. Make sure not to create the misconception that your own definition is the accepted or official one.
  • At the end of the day, your objective should be to write the actual definition, and not an opinion essay.

Creating an Essay Draft

Step 1 Use five sections for the essay.

  • Your thesis statement should appear in the introduction and conclusion section of your essay.

Step 2 Introduce the term and the standard definition.

  • For example, you may write, “According to the Oxford Dictionary, justice is a noun, and it means: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.”

Step 3 Include a thesis statement with your own definition.

  • For example, you may have a thesis statement like, “According to my research and my personal experiences, justice is a quality or trait where you act in a morally correct way.”

Step 4 Discuss the history and origin of the word.

  • For example, you may write, “Justice comes from the Latin jus , which means right or law. It is a commonly used concept in politics, in the legal system, and in philosophy.”

Step 5 Analyze the dictionary definition of the word.

  • For example, you may discuss how justice works as a noun or an idea in politics, the legal system, and in philosophy. You may also discuss what the “quality of being just” means in our society.

Step 6 Compare and contrast the term with other terms.

  • For example, you may talk about how justice is similar and also not quite the same as words like “righteousness” and “equitableness.”
  • You can also discuss words that mean the opposite of the term you are defining. For example, you may contrast the word “justice” with the word “injustice” or “inequality.”

Step 7 Discuss your personal definition.

  • For example, you may write, “On a personal level, I view justice as an essential concept” or “Based on my own experiences, I think justice is blind and often does not serve those who need it the most.”
  • You can also include personal experiences of the word based on interviews you conducted with others.

Step 8 Support your points with evidence and references.

  • Make sure you follow your instructor’s preferred citation style, such as MLA , APA , or Chicago Style .

Step 9 Conclude by restating your main points.

  • Look at the first sentence in each section of the paragraph to help you gather your main points.
  • Include a last sentence that has a strong image or that describes a key phrase in your essay.

Polishing the Essay

Step 1 Read the essay out loud.

  • You should also check for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors in the essay.

Step 2 Show the essay to others for feedback.

  • Be open to constructive criticism from others and take their feedback to heart. It will only make your essay better.

Step 3 Revise the essay.

  • If there is a word count or a page count for the definition essay, make sure you meet it.
  • Include a reference page at the end of the essay and a cover page at the beginning of the essay, if required.

Expert Q&A

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing essays, check out our in-depth interview with Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. .

  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-6-definition/
  • ↑ https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1v2xmaster/chapter/how-to-write-a-definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://examples.yourdictionary.com/definition-essay-examples-and-topic-ideas.html
  • ↑ https://letterpile.com/writing/How-to-Write-a-Definition-Essay-from-Multiple-Sources
  • ↑ https://academichelp.net/academic-assignments/essay/write-definition-essay.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/definitions.html
  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/definition-essay/definition-essay-techniques/
  • ↑ https://quillbot.com/courses/rhetorical-methods-based-essay-writing/chapter/how-to-write-a-definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
  • ↑ https://sheridancollege.libguides.com/AcademicWriting/revising
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html

About This Article

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

To write a definition essay, choose a word that describes a concept or idea. Look up the dictionary definition, the origin of the word, and any scholarly essays or articles that discuss the word in detail, then use this information to create your own definition. When you write your paper, introduce the term and the standard dictionary definition of the word, followed by a thesis stating your own definition. Use the body of the paper to include historical information and explain what the word means to you, then conclude by restating your thesis. For tips on picking your word, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  • How to Write a Definition Essay: Ultimate Guide with Topics and Examples

How to Write a Definition Essay: Ultimate Guide with Topics and Examples

What Is a Definition Essay and Its Purpose?

Difference between definition and definition essay, how to write a definition essay outline, steps for writing an informative definition essay, how to start a definition essay, thesis statement for a definition essay, main body paragraphs, definition essay conclusion tips, definition essay topics for college, common topics, interesting topics, argument of definition topics, extended definition topics, definition essay examples, bottom line, 1. what is a definition essay format, 2. what is a good word to write a definition essay on, 3. how many paragraphs should a definition essay have, 4. what are the common mistakes when writing a definition essay.

Essay writing can be a challenge for students because some academic papers require special skills, knowledge, and in-depth research. Some tasks are not complicated. And a definition essay is such an assignment. Its main aim is to define the term by giving an explanation that is wider than a regular dictionary entry . If you ask yourself, Why write essay when you can just check the meaning in the dictionary? Or looking for answers to questions like: 

  • How to create a definition essay outline?
  • What are the steps for writing a definition essay?
  • What are good definition essay topics?
  • Where to get essay examples?

You will find them in this article. You will learn how to write a definition essay, pick the best topic, structure your paper, and see excellent definition essay samples for better understanding. These simple but useful tips from our essay writing service will help you complete this task fast and effectively. So, read on.

The term “definition essay”, also referred to as an extended definition essay, explains its meaning by itself. It’s an essay type, the purpose of which is to give a complete definition of the particular word, term, notion, concept, or phenomenon. It also helps to solve the issue of controversy in case one notion has several meanings, explains connotations and usage in different contexts, as well as provides examples . The quality of a definition paper depends on your writing skills and understanding of a topic. People don’t like reading about obvious things. Such terms as an apple, sky, book are not the best topics for your definition essays. Choose abstract terms , such as love, freedom, happiness, etc. You should expand the readers’ knowledge, give them new information they can’t find in a regular dictionary. 

There exist several approaches to defining a term. Most commonly, they can be used together. However, in some cases, only one particular approach can be used. You can choose the one that is more suitable for the word you’ve chosen. These approaches are as follows:

  • Denotation is providing a dictionary definition of a term.
  • Connotation is the meaning beyond dictionary definition. It can express the person's attitude and the meanings the word has acquired with time.
  • Comparison or analogy is an approach when you compare two similar notions.
  • Enumeration means listing all the meanings of the word.
  • Negation explains the notion by contradiction by explaining what it is not.

Although they might seem similar, definition paragraph and definition essays are different assignments. Definition only explains the meaning of a notion, concept, term, phenomenon, etc. An essay also helps to solve the issue of controversy in case there exist several diverse meanings of the same notion. It informs the reader about the possible interpretations and approaches to the term. It also describes its peculiarities and possible contexts within which the term or notion can occur. Thus, the main difference between definition and definition essay is that an essay provides a full context of usage of the notion. A definition only gives a basic dictionary explanation. Now you know the answer to a popular question “what is a definition essay?” Therefore, it is time to learn how to create an outline, find the best topic, and write definition essays.

Any piece of academic writing has its specific components. You should know it to meet the paper criteria and create a proper essay. Definition essay structure includes the regular parts of any other academic writing:

  • Introduction.
  • Thesis statement.
  • Body paragraphs (its number depends on the term you are going to explain and the complexity of the chosen subject).
  • Conclusion.

As is the case with any other creative assignment, this task can’t be written without an outline. It is a plan of your paper highlighting all the main points . Some teachers might require an essay outline before students start writing an essay. They do this to make sure students understand the essay structure and organize their ideas logically.  To create an outline, place your thesis at the top to understand the perspective of your paper. After this, write down one-sentence main idea for each paragraph, i.e. one sentence for intro, each body paragraph, and conclusion. Develop all your ideas logically and express them clearly.

Drafting an outline is only one step of definition writing. Wonder how to write your essay fast and without buzz? Follow these simple recommendations.

  • Choose the term. Make sure the word you choose is neither too broad nor too narrow.
  • Conduct research. Before you start writing, make sure there is enough information on the topic, and take notes during research. Find all the possible meanings and peculiarities of usage. You can find them in dictionaries and encyclopedias.
  • Formulate a thesis statement. In this case, it will be the definition of your term.
  • Draft an outline. Organize your ideas logically in an essay outline.
  • Write your paper. Develop ideas from an outline in your introduction, main body, and conclusion.
  • Double-check your essay. Proofread the paper to ensure it is devoid of any type of mistakes and plagiarism.

Now that you know the structure of a definition essay and have a writing plan, let’s discuss each part of a definition essay in detail.

Keep in mind that before you embark on writing an informative and interesting introduction, you should make yourself familiar with a few rules. An introduction must include several essential elements. The first one is an essay hook. Its purpose is to catch readers’ attention and make them interested in reading the essay to the end. You can mention something catchy and intriguing instead of the basic definition from a dictionary (it depends on the effect you want to achieve). A hook for essay can be:

  • Curious fact or statistics
  • A relevant quote
  • A real-life example
  • A rhetorical question

Proceed by introducing your topic . And finish the introductory paragraph with a thesis statement . This section should be brief but informative.

Thesis should express the main idea of your essay. Considering different types of essays , a definition of the notion you are writing about would serve this purpose. In any case, a thesis statement should be clear, specific, concise, and debatable . Sometimes you are required to write a definition of a concrete notion. In this case, you will find all the necessary information in dictionaries. It is more interesting when you are writing about some abstract notions, such as love or home, and have to create your own definition.

Most commonly, the main body should consist of at least three paragraphs. There might be many more paragraphs. It depends on the complexity of the chosen subject and the requirements of your English tutor for this assignment. The fundamental goal of a student who deals with definition essays is to define the term, explain different meanings and usages, as well as give examples. Another essential point is understanding the notion under investigation. You have to provide enough information to uncover all the crucial facts about the word, explain its meaning, origin, etymology , etc. Definition essays must be based on facts and provide the audience with a personal vision of the author. So, look through the sources, write a bibliography page and make sure that you have a deep understanding of the theme before you immerse yourself in definition essay writing.  To succeed with a definition essay body paragraph, you should follow some rules:

  • Make sure you properly understand the chosen word
  • Explain one idea per paragraph
  • If the word you’ve defined has more than one meaning, explain all of them.
  • Use examples, provide various points of view to support the core information.
  • Proofread your essay to eliminate all the mistakes and improve the grade. 
  • Properly cite all the borrowed ideas and create a reference list. 
  • Always run your essays through plagiarism checkers to ensure it’s plagiarism-free. 

Conclusion is an indispensable part of an essay, which makes it complete. The primary aim of this part is to give readers a complete definition of the chosen term. Restate your thesis statement, summarize the main points of your paper, and provide a general conclusion. If you explained an abstract term or created your own definition, you may share how it influences your life or perception of some things. Real-life examples always work well.

How to write an extended definition essay without an excellent topic that grabs the readers’ attention? It may be a troublesome task; you have to pick or think up a great topic for your definition paper. In this case, have a look at these useful tips.

  • Give preference to abstract notions rather than general words that are clear and don’t have any hidden meaning.
  • If the term is too broad, discuss only some of its usages or collocations.
  • Give examples for better understanding.
  • Your essay must be based on facts (a list of references must be added).
  • Don’t pick terms that are too debatable because you like the word. Your goal is to inform, not to persuade.
  • Make sure you have enough information on the term
  • Give preference to the topics to write about that are familiar to you.
  • Read sample definition essays for inspiration.

If you want to write something about love, you can choose an idea from the list below.

  • The meaning of love for various people.
  • Shakespeare wrote a lot of love sonnets. How does this writer define love in his sonnets?
  • What is true love: key facts about this definition?
  • What explanation does Tim O’Brien give for the term love?
  • Human’s freedom and love: what does it mean for us?
  • Counseling and love: similar aspects of these terms.
  • How do people explain love?
  • Love in our everyday life, how do people show their love to others?
  • The philosophical meaning of the term love.
  • What is your favorite book about love?

Choose an idea from the list of excellent topics for a family definition to create the top-notch academic paper.

  • The ideal family through American history.
  • How did society change the meaning of the term family in the past years?
  • Why is it difficult to give a single explanation for the term family?
  • How family and responsibility are connected? Can we compare both terms?
  • The importance of family in the modern world.
  • What types of families are normal in our society?
  • What are family values and how to develop them?
  • How to spend the summer with your family?
  • What is the institution of marriage? What factors can determine it?
  • Who is a single parent? What problems does a single parent face in modern society?

A proper topic is a huge step to writing an excellent definition essay. Have a look at our topics for a freedom definition essay and choose the best sample for yourself:

  • Historical evolution of the term “freedom”.
  • What does the term “freedom” mean for various cultures? Find a corresponding article, analyze it and provide the answer.
  • Independence definition: why should you understand the meaning of this word?
  • How does Eric Foner define the freedom in his Story of American Freedom?
  • How does school define the term “freedom”?
  • Is it possible to give a comprehensive explanation of freedom?
  • How do people lose freedom; what does this mean for them?
  • How does the gas valve steel our freedom? Define the key strategies for development of the country.
  • Why is freedom of speech crucial for modern society?
  • What is religious freedom? Trace its evolution and base your writing on different articles.

If you can’t decide on the best definition essay topic, try one of these exciting ideas:

  • Why are the terms of money and happiness connected for some people?
  • Person’s happiness and the factors that determine this feeling.
  • What is pseudo happiness; why do some people mix up true and pseudo happiness?
  • What is a happy life, what factors define this term for people?
  • The term “happiness” has a lot of definitions. Provide the audience with the best of them.
  • What writer does prefer covering the topic of happiness?
  • Happiness in our everyday life: how can you feel it?
  • Philosophical meaning of the term happiness.
  • Happiness and well-being, are these terms correlated?

If you don’t have specific requirements for the topic, you may pick one of the common topics for your definition essay.

  • Money and success. What do these terms have in common?
  • What is graffiti? Define its variations and main styles. Why do some people call it art?
  • The primary definition of friendship. Why do some people have internal interconnection?
  • What is online dating?
  • What is rudeness: examples of the rude behavior people face every day.
  • How do some people define the term home?
  • Who is an unsuccessful person? Do they really exist or this is just our autosuggestion?
  • How to become a good person: the key traits of good people.
  • How does science influence our life?
  • What is a successful career for the majority of people?

Browse good argumentative essay topics  we prepared for our users. You can choose something interesting for your essay writing.

Choose one of these definition essay topics for college and complete this writing task without extra efforts.

  • What is project management? Create a complete explanation of this term.
  • Excellent shopping experience for various people: what does this mean?
  • American Dream explanation: the evolution of this term, historical facts that explain its core characteristics.
  • The meaning of marriage in different cultures.
  • What does respect mean for people, how can you show that you respect someone?
  • How can you see that the person is a hero and what personal characteristics prove that someone is a hero?
  • What is depression? What facts about this term should you know?
  • Modern technologies for education. How do they improve students’ knowledge?
  • Successful career.
  • Basic components that determine this term for people in various countries.
  • Time management in modern life. What does it mean for the majority of people?

These definition argument essay topics are related to various aspects and explain multiple spheres of our life.

  • Reformation of the modern school system: the primary elements of such reorganization.
  • Technology and education: the significant role of the innovations and new styles in the school system.
  • Emails, chats, cell phones instead of face-to-face communication: is it good for society?
  • The role of immigration in humans’ history.
  • World peace: what factors may help to establish it? (Consult: World peace essay .)
  • What is the cultural heritage? Why is it important for different generations and various countries of the world no matter how developed the country is?
  • Pollution and health: are these terms correlated?
  • What is recycling, and how people can improve this process?
  • The influence of social media on children and adults. Why do some of them face some issues while using these online resources?
  • What is nanotechnology? How to use it in the future? Base your article on trusted sources.

If you need to explain several terms or concepts in your definition paper, you may consider extended definition essay topics from our list.

  • Who is a team player, and how to identify this person among your colleagues?
  • How to distinguish the moral act? The significant characteristics of this term.
  • How to save privacy in the modern world when almost every action is controlled by different institutions and governments?
  • Optimism and pessimism. What is the difference? Why do some people prefer to brighten up some life situations?
  • What is the leadership? How to become a leader in modern society?
  • How to be a good parent; what skills should you develop in your children?
  • Various addictions that people may face. Why does it happen?
  • Capitalism and communism definition: the core difference between these terms? What services do they provide for society?
  • What is laziness? Why are some people lazy?
  • What is a religion? Its influence in different countries.

If you need to see some examples for better understanding or inspiration, check the sample we have prepared for you.

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The Extended Essay Step-by-Step Guide

how to start an extended definition essay

From setting the research question to submitting the Extended Essay, here is an easy-to-follow guide for IB EE students to follow, along with personal anecdotes with tips to apply critical thinking techniques and find success.

Before I started the IB, the thing I was most worried about was the extended essay. I’m pretty sure the reason why I was so worried is because I had no clue what writing it would actually entail.  In this week’s blog, I’ll be going over the basics of the extended essay so you don’t have to worried like I was!

What is an Extended Essay?

The extended essay (often called the EE) is a 4000-word structured essay on a topic of your choice which can take many different forms. Ultimately what your EE ends up looking like depends on the topic you choose.

Some students choose to write their extended essay about literature or history, which means they write a more traditional academic essay.

However, you can choose to conduct an experiment and write up the results if you want to focus on the sciences. Or you can try and solve an arithmetic problem if you are into maths. As long as it takes an academic format, it should be okay!

 What is Included in an Extended Essay?

There are several things that you have to include in your extended essay. As a side note, the requirements for the EE were changed quite drastically in 2016, so it’s important that when you look things up about the EE you are looking at the updated guidelines! You can find out more about this  here .

Based on these new guidelines your EE needs to contain:

  • A research question
  • A cover-page
  • A table of content
  • An introduction
  • A main body
  • A conclusion
  • A bibliography
  • 3 reflections from the beginning, middle and the end of the research process.

The Importance of The IB ee

The extended essay provides each student with the opportunity to investigate a topic of personal interest to them, which relates to either:

-One of the student’s six DP subjects, or

-the interdisciplinary approach of a World Studies extended essay.

Students gain the following skills by writing an extended essay:

-formulating an appropriate research question

-engaging in a personal exploration and critical analysis of the topic

-communicating ideas

-developing an argument

Essentially, the assessment criteria will evaluate the student based on their ability to research a subject, or in the case of the world study extended essay, the two disciplinary perspectives applied. In both examples, you are required to demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and application.

10 Steps to Writing an IB Extended Essay

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write an extended essay, from research question to complete essay.

1. Define the Topic and Draft the Research Question

2. create a timeline, 3. research sources and expand knowledge about the topic, 4. set deadlines, 5. plan the structure according to the total word count, 6. evaluate your understanding, 7. primary and secondary research and theory, 8. write the extended essay draft to explain what you learnt, 9. analyze and edit, 10. present.

By following the steps above, you should be able to produce a logical and coherent rationale to follow when writing the extended essay for your IB diploma programme.

Can You Get Help for the IB Extended Essay?

Of course you do! In fact, you actually get a lot of help. Your school will assign you a ‘supervisor’. Your supervisor will be an IB teacher at your school and it is their responsibility to meet with you and discuss your research question, your planning and also your first draft.

What are the Next Steps?

In conclusion: your extended essay is typically something you write towards the end of your first year of IB so I wouldn’t worry too much about it right now. However, it’s likely you will have to choose your topic and research question sooner rather than later.

What I would recommend is to start thinking about what subject would interest you enough to write a mini thesis of 4,000 words on it.

Pro Tip: Find an example of an extended essay that is effective so you can see how they applied the tips above and explored their research question.

If you find lots of essays, this suggests to you that this is probably a good topic! If there isn’t very much, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, but you might want to change the focus a little to make it easier to conduct research and find enough data to work with.

Don’t let the task overwhelm you: the research and writing should be fun! Students who are truly interested in their topics will likely find the most success.

Get Support from a Tutor at Lanterna for the IB Diploma Programme

Lanterna has over 300 tutors who aced the Extended Essay for their courses. They are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help you get an A in your EE. What are you waiting for? Get your own tutor today and learn valuable insights sure to help you succeed.

For more details about your IB extended essay, be sure to check out our blog post with 100 topic ideas to get you started!

It explains how you can find your research topic, formulate a research question and explain it fully in accordance with the assessment criteria, and finally tips on how to write extended essays.

Read part 2: Choose Your Topic

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how to start an extended definition essay

How to Write an Extended Definition Essay

How to Write an Extended Definition Essay at SolidEssay.com

How to write an extended definition essay – essential tips.

Choose the right term.

You will be given a short list of terms that you associate with various experiences and situations. If you do not have enough self-confidence, we recommend you to select an extended definition topic which seems the most appropriate for you (you have knowledge and information about it; for example, the term “friendship”).  But if you believe that you are able to write an excellent definition essay, then it is better to pick up the most difficult task (for instance, terms like “symbol”, “instincts”, “discoverers”). Most of your classmates would prefer writing on “easy” extended definition essay topics, thus your paper will stand out as a genuine one.

Extended Definition Essay Outline - Plan your work

First, make a short extended definition outline. This will help you develop your ideas in a better way. Follow the usual structure of the five-paragraph essay :

  • Introduction

In the introduction part you write about the context of the problem. Here you can mention a few definitions, and explain which one you prefer.

It should contain 3 paragraphs. Select three different definitions and compare them. Give one example for each of them.

Now you can restate the thesis and summarize the arguments in its favor. Tell the readers what is a strong point of your essay, what exactly makes it stand out.

Refer to particular situations

It would be good to stay within the limits of an abstract thought, but probably no one will comprehend your ideas. Thus, you need to refer to particular cases. Describe them in one sentence only. Employ impartial language and do not become too emotional. It is recommended to refrain from using pronouns like “I” or “my” throughout the essay.

Another strategy: opposition

It is not posited that an extended definition essay should deal only with different meanings of one term. Another strategy of writing can be employed, but it is of a very advanced type. Your essay may be engaged with criticism of the widely accepted definitions or perceptions of the given term. Let’s say that the term is “discoverers.” It usually has positive meaning: a discoverer is always respected by the society (of course, people like Columbus are exception from this rule). However, some discoverers, like the Spanish conquistadors, did harm to the natives, with millions of causalities as a consequence. Very often we associate the term “discoverer” with the climbers who set world records by climbing The Himalayas in wintertime, or the astronauts who are living in the International space station. But discoverers can also destroy local civilizations, or impose their understandings of life upon the local people. Thus, every thesis can be opposed and defended with equally strong arguments.

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Extended Definition Essay Topics

Extended definition essay topics allow the writer to completely define and explain the meaning of a subject matter in their own words. When writing an extended definition essay, you should give examples and experiences related to the topic to emphasize its meaning.

Here is a list of 100+ extended definition topics that you can consider for your next essay.

  • Explain what is a simplified life.
  • What is a sense of humor?
  • What is sportsmanship?
  • Define what is pride.
  • What is generosity?
  • Define what is kindness.
  • What is trust?
  • What does it mean to be self-assured?
  • Who is a generous person?
  • What is modesty?
  • What is faith?
  • Who is a friend?
  • What is dedication?
  • What does it mean to be ambitious?
  • Define a modest person.
  • Define a faithful person.
  • What is dignity?
  • What is pessimism?
  • Define what is charisma.
  • Who is an optimist?
  • Define laughter?
  • Define who is a sexist person.
  • What is racism?
  • Who is a trustworthy person?
  • Explain who is a racist person.
  • What is sexism?
  • What is telecommunication?
  • What is online education?
  • Who is a student?
  • What does it mean to be conservative?
  • What does it mean to be physically fit?
  • What is marketing communications?
  • Define courage?
  • What is traditional education?
  • What is a good diet?
  • What is cyber terrorism?
  • Who is a teacher?
  • Describe a courageous person.
  • What is college life?
  • What is self-respect?
  • What is a bad diet?
  • Define a happy marriage.
  • What is friendship?
  • What is the American Dream?
  • Define family.
  • Who is a pessimist?
  • Explain what is online privacy.
  • Explain what is meant by customer lifetime value.
  • What is exasperation?
  • What is optimism?
  • What is value of life?
  • Describe a good spouse (husband or wife)?
  • What is common sense?
  • Who is a good leader?
  • What is responsibility?
  • What is relaxation?
  • Who is a team player?
  • What is heroism?
  • Describe a mature person
  • What is the sixth sense?
  • What is peace of mind?
  • What is a mercy killing?
  • What is city life?
  • Who is a dependable person?
  • What is persistence?
  • What does it mean to have a healthy appetite?
  •  What is frustration?
  • Define success
  • Define a hero.
  • Who is a persistent person?
  • What is dependability?
  • Who is a responsible person?
  • What is vanity?
  • Who is a successful person?
  • Describe a vain person.
  • What is virtue?
  • Who is a virtuous person?
  • What is progress?
  • Describe a good or bad parent.
  • What is beauty?
  • Describe a beautiful person.
  • What is the perfect vacation?
  • What is cheating?
  • Who is a cheater?
  • What is feminism?
  • Who is a feminist?
  • What is poverty?
  • What is science?
  • Who is a scientist?
  • What is real estate?
  • What is a good attitude?
  • What is a bad attitude?
  • What is religion?
  • Who is a religious person?
  • What is loyalty?
  • Who is a loyal person?
  • What is male chauvinism?
  • Who is a male chauvinist?
  • What is industrialization?
  • Who is an industrialist?
  • What is peer pressure?
  • What is capitalism?
  • What is communism?
  • What is juvenile delinquency?

Having completed your definition essay, proofread it and then read it several times in a row. Read it again the other day (as your mind will be sharper). Now you know a little more about how to write an extended definition essay. The rest depends on your concentration and writing skills. 

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Table of contents


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The IB extended essay is a paper of up to 4,000 words that is required for students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program. The extended essay allows students to engage in independent research on a topic within one of the available subject areas.

The extended essay should be an original piece of academic writing that demonstrates the following student's abilities:

  • Formulating a research question
  • Conductig independent investigation
  • Presenting key findings in a scholarly format.

Check out this article by StudyCrumb to discover how to write an IB extendend essay properly. We will give you a complete writing guide and critical tips you need for this essay type.

IB Extended Essay: What Is It?

An extended essay is independent research. Usually students choose a topic in consultation with a mentor. It is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) degree program. This means that you won't receive a degree without a successfully written paper. It requires 4,000-word study on a chosen narrow topic. To get a high score, you should meet all required structure and formatting standards. This is the result of approximately 40 working hours. Its purpose is giving you the opportunity to try independent research writing. It's approved that these skills are critical for student success at university. The following sections explain how to write an extended article with examples. So keep reading!  

Choosing a Mentor for Extended Essay

IB extended essay guidelines require supervisor meetings, totaling 3-5 hours. They include three critical reflections. A mentor won't write a paper instead of you but can help adjust it. So it is important to consult with them, but no one will proofread or correct actual research for you. In general, initially treat an essay as an exclusively individual work. So your role and contribution are maximal.

Extended Essay Outline

Let's take a look at how to write an extended essay outline. In this part, you organize yourself so that your work develops your idea. So we especially recommend you work out this step with your teacher. You can also find any outline example for essay . In your short sketch, plan a roadmap for your thoughts. Think through and prepare a summary of each paragraph. Then, expand annotation of each section with a couple more supporting evidence. Explain how specific examples illustrate key points. Make it more significant by using different opinions on general issues.  

Extended Essay: Getting Started

After you chose an extended essay topic and made an outline, it's time to start your research. Start with a complete Table of Contents and make a choice of a research question. Select the subject in which you feel most confident and which is most interesting for you. For example, if at school you are interested in natural science, focus on that. If you have difficulties choosing a research question, rely on our essay topic generator .

Extended Essay Introduction

In the introduction of an extended essay, present a thesis statement. But do it in such a way that your readers understand the importance of your research. State research question clearly. That is the central question that you are trying to answer while writing. Even your score depends on how you develop your particular research question. Therefore, it is essential to draw it up correctly. Gather all relevant information from relevant sources. Explain why this is worth exploring. Then provide a research plan, which you will disclose further.  

Extended Essay Methodology

In accordance with extended essay guidelines, it's mandatory to choose and clearly state a methodological approach. So, it will be apparent to your examiner how you answered your research question. Include your collection methods and tools you use for collection and analysis. Your strategies can be experimental or descriptive, quantitative or qualitative. Research collection tools include observations, questionnaires, interviews, or background knowledge.

Extended Essay Main Body

Well, here we come to the most voluminous part of the extended essay for IB! In every essay body paragraph , you reveal your research question and discuss your topic. Provide all details of your academic study. But stay focused and do it without dubious ideas. Use different sources of information to provide supporting arguments and substantial evidence. This will impress professors. For this section, 3 main paragraphs are enough. Discuss each idea or argument in a separate paragraph. You can even use supporting quotes where appropriate. But don't overcomplicate. Make your extended essay easy to read and logical. It's critical to stay concise, so if you aren't sure how to make your text readable, use our tool to get a readbility test . Following the plan you outlined earlier is very important. Analyze each fact before including it in your writing. And don't write unnecessary information.

Extended Essay Conclusion

Now let's move on to the final part of IB extended essay guidelines. In conclusion, focus on summarizing the main points you have made. No new ideas or information can be introduced in this part. Use conclusion as your last chance to impress your readers. Reframe your own strong thesis. Here you must show all key points. Do not repeat absolutely every argument. Better try to make this part unique. This will show that you have a clear understanding of the topic you have chosen. And even more professional will be recommendations of new areas for future research. One good paragraph may be enough here. Although in some cases, two or three paragraphs may be required.

Extended Essay Bibliography & Appendices

To write an impressive extended essay, you should focus on appropriate information. You must create a separate page for bibliography with all sources you used. Tip from us: start writing this page with the first quote you use. Don't write this part last or postpone. In turn, appendices are not an essential section. Examiners will not pay much attention to this part. Therefore, include all information directly related to analysis and argumentation in the main body. Include raw data in the appendix only if it is really urgently needed. Moreover, it is better not to refer to appendices in text itself. This can disrupt the narrative of the essay.  

Extended Essay Examples

We have prepared a good example of an extended essay. You can check it by downloading it for free. You can use it as a template. However, pay attention that your paper is required to be unique. Don't be afraid to present all the skills you gained during your IB.


Final Thoughts on IB Extended Essay

In this article, we presented detailed IB extended essay guidelines. An extended essay is a daunting academic challenge to write. It is a research paper with a deep thematic analysis of information. But we have described several practical and straightforward tips. Therefore, we are sure that you will succeed!


If topics seem too complex, turn to our top essay writers. They will accomplish any IB assignment in the best way your professor can evaluate it!  


Daniel Howard is an Essay Writing guru. He helps students create essays that will strike a chord with the readers.


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Extended Definition Essay Example

A definition essay is a type of essays that provides a comprehensive explanation of a term. In the broad sense of the word, you need to write an essay to define one or another issue from your personal perspective. Yes, you can look the word up in a dictionary and provide its precise definition. Thus, while some specific terms may be defined easily as they have a single meaning, there are some abstract terms that require a wider description based on personal perception. Such essays help understand various aspects of a particular term and consider them within examples that are simple and actual. So an extended definition essay must introduce a person’s point of view on a chosen term followed by a detailed description of its use, structure, and function.

definition essay steps

This article is aimed at helping you with writing a definition essay by giving you the list of terms needed to be defined in an essay and ways of how to do it effectively, and it will help you out. Follow it to succeed in essay writing!

Top 3 Terms to Define in an Essay

1. home – is it a place where you live or came from, or is it property you have.


While going through happy and tough moments of life, a person decides on what situations he or she feels the most joyful in. Thus, in case of trouble, everyone tends to look for the support of a close person. In the meantime, some people may feel better being alone and not sharing their thoughts. In any of the cases, every person has an own way of overcoming negative moments by being with family, lonely, at work or distracting themselves in other ways. Thus, as soon as one finds a way to feel comfortable and hopeful for a better outcome despite all the problems, the person finds a home.

Home, initially, is defined as a dwelling of a person. Such the description includes not only the actual building, but also its people or one’s family, both interior and exterior, the atmosphere, and the feelings that arise when thinking about home. However, every individual, at some point in life, comes to realize that there is much more behind the term than simply a place to live or the memories created there. In fact, it is rather a house that implies such things. Thus, it is important not to confuse the two terms, as a home has a much deeper meaning than a house.

In particular, if a house is an actual possession, one’s home is something to own when possessing nothing, that is, being materially poor. From a different perspective, a house is a building for living while a home may be both materialistic and abstract and may mean:

  • An environment;
  • A season or time of the day;
  • A state of mind.

In other words, being surrounded with pleasant people, doing favorite job, spending time in a comfortable place at the right time, taking care of somebody or being taken care of, eating a delicious meal – all of these things are home, as they provoke that warm feeling inside one’s heart, or else, a sense of belonging. Hence, a home is intangible.

Interestingly, as a house is a physical object, there cannot be enough space for an endless number of people to fit in, no matter how big the house is. A home, by contrast, is always open to new experiences and memories that help complement the perfectly comforting state of both mind and soul. As time passes, a person tends to change, and it involves the change of his or her priorities, interests, and habits. For example, in adulthood, it is more likely for one to consider a house with the family to be home, while those who are younger may have a great variety of things that comfort them.

While the majority of people have a house since being born, few of them manage to acquire a home throughout life, with only several succeeding in keeping it present in life. In some cases, however, an individual may not manage to realize the presence of a home in his or her life, but one will never doubt when admitting to owning a home in the case of having found one.

2. Love – Is It a Romantic Feeling or Pleasure to Do Something?

boy and girl

Love is one of the great mysteries that is difficult to define, difficult to measure, and difficult to understand. Most people think so. But, sooner or later, each person has a strong feeling of affection for someone – a parent, a close friend or girl/boyfriend. It is a feeling about which writers create love stories and poems, great singers sing, and great philosophers ponder. However, there are other meanings of love besides being a romantic feeling of liking someone. It can be a strong feeling of pleasure and enjoyment that something gives you when you do, see or touch it.

Basically, love is a pleasant emotion most people experience – be it in a family, circles of friends, love affairs or hobbies. There is no wrong definition as love is defined for each and every person differently. Even the ways of its demonstration vary – while someone says about love on a non-stop basis and goes off the head, others enjoy doing something very much as it brings a lot of pleasure. Look how many people around devoted to a deal of a lifetime – artists, musicians, businesspeople, etc. What category of people do you belong to? No matter what you love most, your folks, friends or hobbies, there are things that show your love. They are sacrifice and concern. Look at a businessman who sacrifices time and get concerned about business affairs every single day. It means that these people love what they do. Otherwise, they will give up thinking, “Why should I do it?”

It isn’t worth to ignore the meaning of love as a romantic feeling between two people that can also make them blind or do some unthinkable things. Sometimes, the behavior of loving couples may impress – just take the love story of Edward VIII who abdicated the throne because of his desire to marry a two-time divorced American woman, Wallis Simpson. No sooner had Joséphine asked to present something cute and simple, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Sicily. It’s time to find out what love is for you.

3. Holiday – Is It a Fixed Day by Law or Time to Enjoy?

macbook pro

New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Valentine’s Day… All these days are supposed to bring pleasant emotions as they all are aimed at fun and enjoyment. Moreover, some holidays mean days off – days fixed by law on which people do not have to go to work or school. However, most employers still pay extra money to employees working on the day. What is a day for you when you are free formally? Or can you organize the holiday at any time when you need a rest from work or school?

For some people, holidays are the most awaited days of the year. For example, students wait for summer to relax, pursue their hobbies and go on holiday trips. Adults yearn for holidays to take a break from their monotonous routine. At the same time, there is a necessity for them to make numerous plans for holidays – where and when to go, how much to spend, etc. It may cause some stress and the unwillingness to plan anything for holidays. As a result, people prefer to stay at home lazing on a sofa and eating pizza.

A working week consisting of 5 days allows having additional days to spend the time of rest together with family members, friends, or spend it on own. Usually, there is no rule for going to bed in the evening and getting up in the morning. Moreover, students don’t have to go to school. What luck for them! But they need to complete homework – essays, reports, speeches, etc. So any holiday is a day that requires proper planning and effective time management skills .

Most people believe that a holiday is not a time to forget about the studies or work , especially when you leave your work or study during long vacations. You will surely find it challenging to return to school or work. There are 5 resources to make the transition from break to work smoother for teachers, students, and everyone else. Just squeeze in an hour or two each day for completing some tasks – to read a book or write an essay. And certainly, don’t forget about your interests and hobbies – dancing, blogging, swimming, yoga, painting, or music. It’s up to you what a holiday is for you, and don’t hesitate to write a good definition essay about it.

To simply write a definition essay is complicated because every person has a different perception. The only way to capture the meaning of an issue is to experience it, dig deeper into an issue or find someone who could help with it. Get involved in anything of your choice – a friend, a relative or an academic writer who will format your definition essay properly in addition to high-quality essay writing.

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How to Write an Extended Essay: from Outline to Conclusion

Extended essay

Writing an Extended Essay

As a student, especially those pursuing International Baccalaureate (IB), you will be faced with the challenge of coming up with an extended essay. But few students do not know how to write long essays like an extended essay. That is where we come in.

In this comprehensive guide, I will guide you on the 8 steps to follow when writing a good extended essay and provide you with examples of topics you can use.

As noted by one of our top essay writers for hire , extended essays are not like your ordinary essays. As the name suggests, they are extended versions of essays and it may take longer and a unique approach to writing them.

However, before delving into such details, it is important to first understand what extended essays are.

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What is an extended essay.

An extended essay (EE) is a form of writing that provides learners with a chance to carry out independent research concerning a topic of their interest. It is part of the requirements for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and its content is based on a freely-selected topic provided that there is an instructor for the subject in school since candidates should have a supervisor for the subjects.

To be more precise, an extended essay can be regarded as a 4000-word structured piece of writing centered on an International Baccalaureate student’s topic and it may take various forms.

What is meant by “it may take various forms” is that the way it looks depends on the topic selected. The next section will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write an extended essay. 

How to Write an Extended Essay

When writing an extended essay, there 8 steps that should be taken to effectively complete it on time. Carefully read through the 8 steps to fully understand how to write an extended essay.

Step 1: Selecting a topic and researching on it

Researching extended essay

This is the first step that you should take before writing your extended essay.

As noted, extended essays will allow you to write on the topic of your interest.

However, various topics are provided by your instructor and it is upon you to select the topic that interests you.

You should keep in mind that the topic selected should have enough material and resources to support your topic and the position of your arguments concerning the topic.

Some topics may have limited resources.

At the same time, select a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. A narrow topic may lack enough material to have a 4000-word extended essay while a broad topic may require a lot of supporting material that may exceed the 4000-word limit.  

If you find the first step confusing or you find it difficult to tackle it on your own, it is advisable to seek a mentor/advisor. You should select an advisor or mentor with whom you will connect well and the one who understands the topic and what is required when writing extended essays.

Such a mentor will help you select the topic that fits your interest. While helping you select a topic that is not too narrow or broad, they should push you to deliver your best. Mentors/advisors can be your instructors or friends who have completed extended essays. 

Once this is done, research extensively concerning your topic and ensure that the sources of your information are peer-reviewed and credible. They should provide the most recent research or information concerning your topic.

Note the sources of your information so that you can cite and reference them in your extended essay. 

Step 2: Coming up With a Research Question

This is an important step because selecting a research question will provide you with a focused and clear summative statement to be used during your research.

It will act as a roadmap or a guideline that will help you during the writing process. It will also help you formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that will summarize your arguments and the position you will take in your extended essay. 

Step 3: Structuring Your Extended Essay

As aforementioned, extended essays should always take an academic format. This means that it should have an acceptable academic structure.

At the same time, since International Baccalaureate (IB) guidelines are constantly updated, you should follow the latest guidelines so that you can utilize the latest format. 

The acceptable format for your extended essay will include an introduction, methodology, main body, conclusion, bibliography, and appendices.

Writing extended Essay

This will be the general structure for your extended essay.

It should be noted that this structure is not an outline.

What this means is that the structure should be considered when coming up with an outline.

Once you have decided the structure of your extended essay, come up with an outline based on your topic, thesis, and arguments.

An outline will act as a guide during the drafting process and it will save a lot of time.

This is because you will have already outlined your extended essay and what you will be doing is to add content to the points you have highlighted. Ensure that individual points translate to a single paragraph. 

You should also note that the extended essay will have a table of contents. Therefore, the outline will be very important when coming up with your table of contents that is located after the cover page of your extended essay. 

Step 4: Writing the Introduction

Once you have completed the above steps and you have come up with an outline based on the extended essay’s structure, the next step is to introduce your topic and elaborate it to your target readers.

Writing the Introduction

There are various things you should consider when coming up with an introduction.

First of all, the introduction should be catchy and interesting.

This is because your readers will read it before deciding on whether to continue with the rest of the paper.

The best way to do this is to begin your introduction with something catchy or attention-grabbing sentence.

This will arouse the reader’s curiosity to know more about the topic.

The second thing you should know about the introduction is that it should offer a crisp and clear description of what you are going to talk about and the various strategies you will use to explore the topic. It all depends on the topic.

You can decide to highlight the issues that will be explored and the ways of addressing such issues. It is all about proving some brief background of what you will be exploring in the rest of the paper.

Do you remember that you formulated a research question after researching your topic? While introducing the topic of your extended essay, you should provide the context of your research question where you address the situation or the background from which the question comes.

While doing so, you should state the research question and elaborate on why answering the question is important for the paper’s findings. 

The introduction should also tell the readers why the research you present in your extended essay is important, interesting, and/or valuable to the discipline and the audience.

Finally, you should conclude your introduction by writing your thesis statement. This should be the last sentence of your introduction paragraph(s). 

Step 5: Methodology

This is also a very important step when writing an extended essay. To make sure that all the important aspects of the methodology are covered, you should divide this section into two.

extended essay Methodology

The first section of the methodology explains your sources of information and the second section explores the related theories, topics, and arguments that will be used to explore your topic. 

In the first section, you should describe every primary and/or secondary source used, why the sources are important, and their limitations.

Sources of secondary research can include news articles, annual reports for companies, business textbooks, magazine articles, and encyclopedias. The final thing you should do while in section 1 is to state the adjustments made in your research. 

For the second section, you should provide a brief explanation of the theories that are going to be applied and the reason why they are the most appropriate in explaining your arguments.

Also, give the limitations of each theory, topic, or argument applied. Finally, state the changes made during the research and writing process.

Step 6: Drafting the Main Body

This should be the most elaborate part of your extended essay because you will concentrate on the research, analysis of the research, discussion, and evaluation.

You should try to retain the flow of step 5 that has steps 1 and 2. This will demonstrate that you understand the concepts of the International Baccalaureate while still addressing your topic using the relevant sources. 

In the first section, for each of the theories, arguments, and topics used to address your topic, include about 4 examples of each to help you answer the research question effectively. Also, address the qualitative tools applied before the quantitative tools.

The second section goes beyond the course to educate your evaluator and/or readers concerning your topic. Explore the related concepts and theories deeply while providing different perspectives on the topic.

Remember that you should be evaluating the findings here. Use analytical insight to further explain your arguments and points of view. Graphs and other forms of data presentation can be used. However, they should apply to the research.

Step 7: Writing the Conclusion

In this step, you should sum up your arguments from all your sections. It is important to stipulate what has been researched and how it has helped answer the research question.

It should be noted that no new information should be added in the conclusion. Mention some limitations of the research and their impact, and the reasons behind such limitations.

Finally, state the thing(s) you can do differently if you were to write another extended essay.

Step 8: Bibliography and Appendices

On a different page or the next page after the conclusion, reference your sources of information using the correct format (APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard styles). Always remember to arrange the references from A to Z. Bibliography or references are not part of the word count.

The appendices section showcases the extra work you have done such as transcripts of the interviews conducted, additional analysis, and any other data that you found interesting but did not include in the body of your paper. 

Once you are done with writing, thoroughly proofread your work and correct any grammatical or spelling errors made. Make sure that the work is well formatted with all the sections included.

At the same time, make sure that nothing in your paper is copy-pasted because it will be regarded as plagiarism. Always do this before submitting your extended essay. 

Best Length of an Extended Essay

While there is no universally agreed minimum word count for an extended essay, you should not write less than 3,000 words. This is because lesser than that will demonstrate that you did not adequately research your topic.

Since the acceptable word limit on the upper side is 4,000 words, always strive to write more than 3,500 words. Unlike other types of essays like a GRE Essay that is short, an extended essay is long in terms of word count.

In other cases, the minimum word count is 1,500 words, and the maximum word count is 4,000 words. It is up to the student to decide what their word count should be. It is important not to go over or under the prescribed word count by more than 10%. The upper limit of 4000 words should be a guideline rather than a firm rule.

Can the extended essay be over 4000 words?

Yes, the extended essay may be up to 4000 words in length. The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays. This upper limit includes the introduction, the body, the conclusion, and any quotations, but does not include:

  • the abstract
  • the contents page
  • acknowledgments
  • any diagrams, charts, tables, and graphs
  • the bibliography

How many pages is an extended essay?

4000 words is 8 pages single spaced, and 16 pages double spaced. The number of pages changes depends on the number of words, the font, and the font size. Usually, the extended essay is 4000 words in length, so it is quite a bit longer than your average essay. Double-space, Times New Roman 12 is pretty much universal, in college anyway.

What are the extended essay minimum and maximum word count?

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12 Examples of Extended Essay topics

  • What is the effect of age and gender on the photoreceptor cells in the human retina?
  • How is climate change impacting the appearance of coral reefs?
  • An evaluation of how antioxidants work in our bodies?
  • Is there an association between viewing violence on television and the display of violent acts?
  • What motivational climate should a coach employ to achieve optimal performance in athletes?
  • How does the X hormone affect human behavior?
  • How were women treated differently in the 1920s and 1950s Great Britain?
  • What role did economics play in the unification of Germany from 1834 to 1871?
  • How does the sugar concentration affect the refractive index of water?
  • What factors influence the location of industries in country/city X?
  • An investigation into the significance of preserving the quality of water in a continent/country/city?
  • What effect does the coating of aspirin tablets have on the hydrolysis of aspirin?

Can You Redo an Extended Essay?

Yes. You can redo an extended essay if you appeal to the relevant institution about the reason(s) why you failed on the first try. You should provide credible and sensible reasons for you to be considered. It is only then that you are granted a retake. 

Can You Fail an Extended Essay?

Yes. You can fail an extended essay if you do not follow the essay’s requirements, instructions, or rubric. 

What Happens if You Fail an Extended Essay?

If you fail an extended essay, you will not graduate with a diploma. Therefore, if you fail, you should request a retake and do your best to write a good extended essay. 

How many points is the extended essay worth?

The Extended Essay is a 4,000-word essay that you write on a topic of your choice. This counts towards your IB Diploma and it’s worth 3 points of your overall score.

The Extended Essay is often the most rewarding part of the IB Diploma. It gives you the chance to study something that you want to learn about in-depth, and it can be on any topic you choose – as long as there’s an expert to supervise it!

Can I publish my extended essay?

You may publish your extended essay. There are some things to consider before you do though: • Check that the subject of your essay is appropriate for publishing. Some subjects, such as science and math, may not be appropriate for publication because of how quickly the field develops. Also, check that your advisor approves of publishing the essay. • Check that you have gotten all the necessary permissions you need before you publish. • Check with your advisor if you have any doubts about these things.

Josh Jasen working

Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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