Definition Essay. Definition, Topics, and Examples

There are many types of essays students have to write, and a definition essay may be one of the most interesting and comprehensible tasks. However, you must keep in mind certain tips and aspects to make the writing process flow better and produce an enjoyable and insightful essay. Just in case, let’s start with the definition of this type of essay to make sure you really understand what it encompasses.

Clearly, definition essay topics themselves are just a list of words and notions students are offered to define and explain. There’s more to it than just providing a dictionary article. First of all, the word you’ll be defining should be a concept, not an object. For example, you can write justice, courage, success, or happiness definition essay. That way, in addition to the topic’s of the essay definition in literature, you will be able to share your understanding of the idea, whether arguing the conventional view of it or agreeing and expanding it. This will either be impossible or very difficult to do if you choose to write about, say, a cat, a hydrant, or pick some random scientific word and write, let’s say, a synthesis essay definition. Also, you should have a good understanding of the concept, so pick the topic you know well.

Once you have your topic, there is a definition essay structure you should follow. It’s common to begin with a standard definition from a dictionary as a reference. Follow with a thesis statement which is your own definition of the word, based on your experience and research. This will make up the introduction, after which you can provide an insight into the word’s origins. Then, dissect the dictionary definition, narrow its meaning, and compare or contrast it to your own vision. Provide quotes and links to sources that back your definition up, and finish with the conclusion.

We have prepared several definition essay examples for you because it’s the best way to understand what your own work should look like.

‘Humor’ Definition Essay

Despite people having a different sense of humor, we should at least define humor in general. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states that it is “the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous.” In my opinion, that is a very good definition, although I would explain humor as an ability to look at things, situations, or ideas from a different and often unexpected perspective, which results in a positive effect on one’s mood. Let’s not dive into biological reasons behind smiles and laughter as that could be quite boring which is opposite to being humorous.

If we look at the etymology of ‘humor,’ the first records of it being associated with something funny or amusing date back to 1680s, but the word’s original meaning was ‘wet’ or ‘body fluid’ from Latin ‘umor’. It was believed that a person’s state of mind was determined by proportions in which four body fluids were present in the body. In my opinion, it is an interesting parallel to how some people consider certain things humorous while others see them as tragic and bereaved of anything funny.

Hence, humor is more of an opinion which has a certain effect on a person. There are different types of humor, but they always have something to do with looking from a different perspective and seeing something amusing other people either don’t see immediately or at all. The effect also depends on the context and the mood surrounding people as these criteria heavily influence this ability to appreciate the discovered incongruity.

As humor is something you cannot always explain to others, its definition may also be difficult to grasp. However, taking into account the dictionary and the etymology, I would like to offer the following definition. Humor is an individual ability to discover and appreciate unexpected absurdity and incongruity under certain circumstances and resulting in the change of mind.

‘Holiday’ Definition Essay

Most people find the word ‘holiday’ very cheerful as it either causes them to remember pleasant times or to expect them in the near future. Dictionary.com defines it as “a time or period of exemption from any requirement, duty, assessment, etc.” That is the more general meaning, and another one describes a holiday as “any day of exemption from work.” I agree with the first definition more, as it does not mention the reasons for that holiday or limits it only to those people who don’t have to go to work.

As for the grounds for this period of exemption from duties, the etymology of the word covers the lion’s share of them. ‘Holiday’ is a literal translation of the Sabbath, or Saturday – a holy day for Jewish people, which they entirely devoted to worshipping God. Nowadays, holidays are not limited to religious reasons only, as there are national holidays, unofficial holidays, and international secular holidays which may not be the same date but celebrate the same thing like Independence Day.

To me, a holiday is not always a fixed date or one that happens every year. Sure, it’s great not to have to study or go to work on a holiday, but it’s more about feeling good and elated. That way, a holiday does not necessarily mean a special day for the whole country but for a small group of people or even one person. For example, you may be meeting someone close you have not seen for a while. It will not matter whether it’s a weekend or a regular working day. To you, it will be special.

So, I would like to add that aspect to the standard definition and make it more precise. Hence, a holiday is a day of exemption from regular duties, meant to commemorate a specific event, person, or an idea, and/or associated with having a cheerful attitude.

Definition Essay on ‘Nothing’

How do you define ‘nothing’? Well, it’s nothing, so you don’t, right? However, there is a word, and it has a meaning, so let’s find out what dictionaries have to offer. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that ‘nothing’ is ‘not any thing; no thing’. It also has several other entries, one of which is ‘something that does not exist.’ In my opinion, that is still a very controversial definition that can be misunderstood. I see ‘nothing’ as opposed to something that is expected to be but isn’t. Tricky, I know. Let’s try to make that thought a bit clearer.

There is no need to explore the word’s etymology, as it is a sum of words ‘no’ and ‘thing.’ We cannot say when the need for that word first arisen, but if there is a word, then it stands for something. Only, in this case, it’s nothing. The word cannot mean nothing, because then it would not exist. Yet it does, and one can argue that it even helps to shape the thing it defines. And still, there is nothing.

According to Fraser Cain, who tried to answer the question in his article “What is Nothing?” from a physical point of view, there is always something, like quantum fluctuations in a total vacuum. Hence, I believe, that whenever we use the word ‘nothing,’ it is used to point out the absence of something that would otherwise be expected to be present. We can always substitute it for ‘no smth.’ For example, “I have nothing to say” means “I have no words (that people expect to hear) to say.” “There was nothing in the fridge” stands for “There was no food (that I expected to be) in the fridge,” and so on.

And now, one would expect to read a conclusion with the final and comprehensible definition. What do you get instead? Nothing.