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Essay guides and tips

The Main Purpose Of A Definition Essay: An Academic Tutorial

The purpose of any essay is to encourage students in developing ideas and concepts in written form. The purpose of a definition essay may seem to be explained quite easily: to define a thing or a concept. Writing such kind of a paper, students should develop ideas and concepts using their skills in analyzing, evaluating, structuring, summarizing. However, defining a term and analyzing its meanings is rather complicated, because students have to deal with abstract notions and concepts and not with facts, events or data as when they write essays of some other kind. Besides, people`s perception of terms is rather subjective.

The Purpose of Definition

A great number of words have not only denotative meanings, i.e., what they denote, but also connotative ones, i.e., what is implied by them. Hearing one and the same word of such a kind, people in one and the same group may have different images, provoked by different connotative meanings. The nature of these images depends on many factors: age, the level of education, belonging to a certain social group and the like. This difference in the perception and usage of one and the same word has an impact on various sides and on different levels of their lives – beginning with governments and ending with pubs.

The Purpose of a Definition Essay

A definition essay is supposed to demonstrate how the word is used in different contexts, show what meanings it conveys. The writer should substantiate the definitions with examples or facts, convincing the reader to share their point of view. Therefore, the main purpose of a definition essay is to eliminate misunderstanding between people, to make communication more productive. Definitions establish certain parameters of discourse and the way in which people communicate ideas.

Useful Hints to Achieve the Purpose of a Definition Essay

  • Select a term of a concept, not of an object. It should be complex enough, disputable and personally relevant. Create a solid theoretical basis for discussion and production of an interesting paper.
  • Start from a dictionary definition. Show all the most important meanings of the term. As far as any definition is both a fact and a personal opinion, share your reasons with the reader.
  • Show the possible differences in the meanings by contrasting and comparing and support your ideas by examples and facts.
  • Make concept more visible by assigning and describing its parts; convey the history of the word and phases of its development.
  • Put forward a strong thesis statement to clearly reveal your point of view.