Types of Definitions
A definition is simply what a term means. You have learned the meanings of many new words this semester through the vocabulary lists. But some words require more than just a sentence or two to truly understand the term.
A formal definition is the type of definition you could find in any dictionary. It is basic, but often does not provide enough detail for a word that requires one to understand a concept. For instance, if some said, “I know what love is. I looked it up in the dictionary.” You probably would not think that person really knew what means at all.
Therefore, many words (including many of those from your vocabulary word lists), require an extended definition, a longer, more complex definition, to truly understand what the term means (Kirszner and Mandell 481).
For this module, you will be asked to write an entire paper defining a term of your choice. It can be a common word, a short phrase (such as “off the wall”), or even a slang term or term you and your friends made up and use frequently (Please be careful with profanity). If you choose to define a slang term or phrase, you may want to use the Urban Dictionary for the formal dictionary (please remember to either cite, or at least name your sources in the paper). Entire books are sometimes written defining a word, a psychology book defining “behaviorism,” or a science book defining photsynthesis.
Basic Outline of a Definition Paper
The introduction should include some background information of the term or short phrase. The formal definition should appear either in the introduction or immediately following the introduction. Note – Please remember to name the dictionary you used to define your word or phrase, if you used one (E.g. – According to Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary justice means . . . ). You can also include a brief history of the word, also known as an etymology. A good online source for word histories, or etymologies, is etymology.com. Again, be sure to name the source within the paper if you use this or any outside source.
At the end of the introduction, there should be a thesis statement, which provides a brief account of what the term means to you and how you will define it in the rest of the paper.
In the body of the definition paper, students can include any and all of the following items:
· Examples – * This is probably the most important aspect of the definition paper. Few good definition papers can survive without clear, specific examples to make their term or short phrase come to life. Each of the sample papers below provide vivid examples of their respective terms. For example, you can define racism by presenting examples of times people said or did something you felt was racist, or even by presenting laws that would be considered racist by today’s standards, such as literacy tests that some states used to force African Americans to take before they could vote.
· Synonyms – What other terms are similar to the one you are defining in this paper? Synonyms can easily be found in any thesaurus, which is available in Microsoft Word.
· Antonyms – The opposite meaning of the term you are defining. For example, one can define justice by providing examples of what justice is not, such as the recent incident involving George Floyd.
· Enumeration – A writer can provide a list of characteristics that make up a word. If someone were to define “love” they could make a list of characteristics they find attractive in someone, such as a sense of humor, intelligence, compassion, physical attraction, kindness, etc.
Finally, in the conclusion, the writer should be sure to include something about how they have changed the definition or changed the way people think about the word. In some way, you should answer that “so what?” factor discussed earlier this semester.
I would also like to put up a reminder to use effective transitions throughout your paper. I liken transition words to the spice that makes a meatball tasty, because who wants a bland meatball? Certainly no one, and non one wants a bland paper either. They are what helps a paper easily flow within paragraphs and from paragraph to paragraph. Here is a list of transition words and phrases from Thoughtco. Although it claims to be a comprehensive list, I doubt any list of transitions can be truly comprehensive, but this list is pretty thorough.
should be at least 600 words,
typed, double spaced,
with 1 inch margins,
with a half inch indentation for each paragraph.
The word Is happiness
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