Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Definition Essay Outline - Writing Guide With Examples

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Published on: Jun 10, 2019

Last updated on: Dec 19, 2022

Definition Essay Outline

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definition essay is very common in high school and college. It is a type of essay that is intended to define a term, word, idea, or concept. It allows you to present your own point of view about a particular topic.

A definition essay is assigned to students to improve their creative writing and academic writing skills. These types of essays are the most common type of essays that students encounter during their academic life.

Writing a definition essay is always considered to be one of the least challenging tasks for students. However, you can only write a successful definition essay if you know all the ins and outs of writing it.

In this blog, you’ll learn how to write a definition essay outline in a step-by-step process. The example given below gives you a better understanding of the format of a definition essay. Begin reading the blog now!

Definition Essay Outline

A good definition essay deeply explores a term, word, or a particular idea. The definition essay writer explores the history of a certain term and presents his personal understanding of that term.

A standard definition essay is more than just a simple dictionary definition. It is a profound research of a specific word or term and can’t be defined in a single sentence. The writer is supposed to examine a particular topic and provide well-researched examples as well as personal experience examples.

There are several vital elements of any successful definition essay. This handout will define those elements and guide you on how to put them together using an outline. Follow the given below format to keep your content organized and get your essay underway.

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Definition Essay Outline Format

The definition essay outline format is no different from any other type of essay. It follows the typical format that consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Here is the definition essay format:

  1. Introduction
    1. Academic or dictionary definition
    2. An anecdote, interesting facts or personal examples
    3. Thesis statement
  2. Body Paragraph I
    1. Topic sentence I
    2. Analysis of the topic sentence
    3. Supporting examples, facts or evidence
    4. Transition to the next topic sentence
  3. Body Paragraph II
    1. Topic sentence II
    2. Analysis of the topic sentence
    3. Supporting examples, facts or evidence
    4. Transition to the next topic sentence
  4. Body Paragraph III
    1. Topic sentence III
    2. Analysis of the topic sentence
    3. Supporting examples, facts or evidence
    4. Transition to the conclusion
  5. Conclusion
    1. Restate the thesis statement
    2. Summarize the essay
    3. Closing remarks

Refer to the definition essay outline template given below and use it for writing your own definition essay.

How to Write Definition Essay Outline

As it is defined above a formal definition essay defines a word, term, idea, or concept. It is a type of expository essay writing in which the writers expose the meaning of a particular subject. It follows a typical standard essay format and includes a definition as well as an analysis of a particular term.

Here is the step-by-step process of how to create a definition essay outline. You can follow the following procedure while writing your own essay outline.

Read the Instructions

Prior to starting writing your essay, read the instructions carefully and understand them completely. The instructions of the assignment will tell you exactly how you have to work on it. Highlight the keywords in the instruction i.e. word count, give examples, etc.

Make sure you don’t miss any key points in the instructions, as they are the guidelines for a successful essay.

Choose the Topic

Pick a topic for your essay carefully as it is the first thing that the reader is going to see. Create a list of words that you’d be glad to explore and pick a topic that interests you the most. Search for the popular words through the encyclopedia, or in the news. Search for the words that are unique and unused, words that make you and your audience laugh.

Avoid picking up simple or common words that are used frequently and people are already familiar with it. Choose a word or a term that has an abstract meaning so that you can easily write a complete essay on it. Extended definition essay topics can make a great definition essay..

Collect Information

After deciding the topic, find credible and relevant information about it. The first thing that you need to do is find the dictionary meaning of the term. List all the literal meanings associated with the term.

After that, check out the quotations from reference books and definitions made by famous peoples. Ask experts to find where the term is frequently used and what different meanings are associated with it. And lastly, search the web to find the word’s etymology.

Create an Outline

A definition essay outline follows the same traditional 5 paragraph essay outline format as other types of essays do. Insert your information in the outline that you have found while doing research. Organize your research to identify the details that you want to add in your essay.

The standard 5 paragraph essay outline consists of:

  1. An introduction paragraph
  2. Body Paragraph 1
  3. Body Paragraph 2
  4. Body Paragraph 3
  5. A conclusion paragraph

Definition Essay Introduction

The definition essay introduction section is the first time the reader is exposed to the topic of your essay. That means it should be highly informative and interesting enough that compels the reader to read the complete essay. It should include the following components:

  1. Start with a standard brief definition from the dictionary
  2. A quick overview of the term idea concept or the topic of the essay
  3. A thesis statement that tells the reader the exact meaning of the term

Remember that the definition essay does not include a complex thesis statement as of argumentative essay or any other essay. But the definition essay thesis statement is just a strong statement that has a neutral look.

Definition Essay Body Paragraphs

The traditional 5 paragraph essay has 3 body paragraphs that mean you can investigate three main points related to the topic. Each paragraph investigates only one point and presents its supporting details.

Mostly the definition essays are so brief that you can’t source enough information to put in 3 separate paragraphs. Therefore it can have as little as one paragraph, and if required more paragraphs can be added.

Here is how you can organize your body section:

  1. Provide a detailed background of the term that you are analyzing.
  2. List examples, facts, and explanations from various dictionaries and other sources.
  3. Clarify the term so that the reader won’t get confused

Remember that you are not writing a narrative essay, where you just have to narrate the story. In a definition essay, you have to explain the term in-depth to make it easily understandable for the reader.

Definition Essay Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph is the final section where you have to summarize the details. To organize the conclusion paragraph follow these steps:

  1. Summarize all the main points
  2. Add more personal views
  3. Conclude the essay by encouraging the audience to read more about the term

Make sure you provide enough information that the term becomes easily understandable for the reader.

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Definition Essay Outline Examples

Creating an outline before writing an essay helps in defining essay layout. Here are some definition essay outline examples for your help. Check them out.

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Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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