Which Definition Essay Topics Will Help You to Succeed?

If you are a student in a college or university, you know much about essays. It is inevitable because you have to write tons of them. This task is regular in colleges and favored by the professors. And it is easy to understand why: many kinds of essays have different scopes. Students can focus on different goals and show their skills, the professors can evaluate several aspects at once. Depending on the qualities they want to check, college tutors choose the essay type to challenge their students.

The definition essay is a very popular kind for such an assignment, and one of the most efficient exercises for improving vocabulary and thinking. It is all about the words and their meanings. You can say that the definition is the ground of understanding and communication. So, the task is usual, students have to perform it often, but many of them can feel bewildered by the conditions. This article is aimed to help you to overcome any doubts and concerns in regards to this essay type.

Peculiarities of the Definition Essays

This kind of essay means that you present the explanation of the meaning of some term or concept. It mustn’t be an article from the explanatory dictionary, of course. You need to offer your understanding and interpretation of the term. It makes this assignment more creative, and more difficult.

Choose the Topic Wisely  

This essay is the research paper that requires proper preparation from you. All the recommendation on choosing the appropriate essay topic are applicable here:

  • Choose the subject that is interesting for you. As this essay type deals with meanings, you should take the term or concept that you understand well, or you would like to research it.
  • Search for actual ideas. It is not any secret that modern life is full of ideas expressed in words, and some of them are burning. Such topics attract attention by default, and you can get more opportunities to interpret them.
  • Think about the audience. The term you want to use in your definition essay might be important for you, but it might not appeal to your readers or listeners. You can introduce the new concepts to them, of course, and this will be a big plus for you as the author. But if you are not really sure about your teaching skills, it might be better to choose the concept that you all can already share.

However, the definition essay implies some specific points you should consider:

  • Avoid words with narrow and strict meaning as the essay topics. Such a choice reduces the opportunity to present a really interesting interpretation. It is batter to explore the definitions of terms having several meanings.
  • Stick to the concepts that you understand well (at least one of their meanings). On one hand, vaguer terms let you make more interesting research to find the correct meaning and then include that word into your vocabulary. On another hand, it might take more time. And don’t forget that the concept might be well-known to your audience, and they will get bored.
  • Never choose abusive words as topics, even if they give ground for investigation. This is connected with the reaction of your audience – they may not accept that as an experiment.
  • Consider the style you choose for the definition essay. If you want to explore some concepts of great importance or a controversial concept, you can choose a dry and scientific style or a more emotional approach. Decide which one would suit you better and engage your audience.

Find Your Approach to the Topic

The definition essay lets you have the freedom of interpretation of the topic. If you have only the term you need to explore in your essay, you can consider the approaches to cope with the task. The most popular methods you can apply are the following:

  • History of the word. You can research its origin – which language it came from, which people it belonged to. Check if that was always a colloquial word, or a professional term, examine its scope in the past and now.
  • Changes in meanings. Many terms had different meanings in their history. Examine which events and circumstances influenced such changes, and how these words are understood now.
  • Own interpretation. This is an excellent approach if you deal with the term defining a concept. Here you can show your understanding of the wider context and originality of thinking. Just don’t let yourself get carried away, your interpretation must remain logical.
  • The controversy of using the word. This topic of a definition essay can direct you to examine the current processes in the language. Here you can see how the meanings change before your eyes and which factors influence these changes.
  • Neology. Here you can also investigate the reasons for the appearance of the new words, and the models their creation. You can also connect the new words with the current social trends to show the representation of life in the language.

50 Topics to Choose from for Your Definition Essay

Similar to the other topics, ideas for the definition essays often relate to the concepts that are most important for students. Here we offer you some examples to choose from or to use them as inspiration and create own topic.

Here are some great definition essay topics for college students.


  1. Intelligence – which meaning does the society puts into this term?
  2. A healthy way of life – the common understanding and examples from life.
  3. Time management – the definition from several areas. What does it mean for a student?
  4. Maturity – physical or ethical scope.
  5. Degree – what it means for the student.
  6. University – the origin of the word.
  7. Professor – the difference of meanings that depends on the application.
  8. College – the concept of high education.
  9. Erudition – what people mean using this term now.
  10. Second language – definite examples in many countries.

Social issues

  1. Personality – is this the same as a “good person”?
  2. Bullying – naming the problem is the way to its solution.
  3. Discrimination – the origin of this word and the usage at the current stage.
  4. Equal rights – how both “sides” understand this concept.
  5. Multiculturalism – the difference in understanding this concept by the representatives of different social circles.
  6. Success – broad meaning and narrow understanding.
  7. Heroism – the evolution of meaning.
  8. Poverty – understanding what it means now in comparison with the historical evidence.
  9. Abuse – how the meaning depends on the social layer.
  10. Freedom – how this meaning is understood by people.

Controversial topics

  1. Global warming – the scientific definition and common understanding.
  2. Capital penalty – how can the word penalty relate to this concept?
  3. Pro-choice – the concept that represents the social trend.
  4. Pro-life – what the supporters and the opponents of this trend mean by the term.
  5. Cloning – different meanings of the word in different contexts.
  6. Patriotism – understanding of the word in different periods of history.
  7. Religious Freedom – can these words correlate at all?
  8. Free Market Capitalism – scientific definition and common understanding.
  9. Nationalism – the history and the modern understanding of the concept.
  10. Creationism – is it a scientific or philosophic concept.

Abstract topics

  1. Creativity – personal interpretation.
  2. Happiness – the evolution of the term.
  3. Charisma – the origin of the word and how we understand this quality of a person.
  4. Wisdom – is this the same as erudition and knowledge?
  5. Trust – the meaning of the word used in different contexts.
  6. Love – is there the definition of this feeling at all?
  7. Respect – the history of the word and its usage in many contexts.
  8. Hate – how the meaning of this word changed with time?
  9. Bravery – when can we use this definition to describe the person?
  10. Competitive spirit – provide the extended interpretation of the meaning depending on the context.

Bonus topics

  1. Political correctness – several ways of how people understand it.
  2. Team player – definition and the personal understanding of the necessary qualities.
  3. Sense of humor – how do we evaluate if this quality is good or bad for a person?
  4. Sport – direct and indirect meanings. Features that the activity must possess to be a sport.
  5. Acting – the vocabulary definition and the difference between acting and pretending.
  6. Family – describe the meaning of the word in different cultures.
  7. Ugliness – what is considered ugliness in modern days? How does it relate to appearance?
  8. Privacy – different understandings of this word in context.
  9. True friendship – personal interpretation of the concept as opposed to being just pals.
  10. Freedom of choice – different incarnations of the idea.

Need More Assistance?

If you are still in doubt about the definition essay, it is useful to refer to the examples of such works. We can offer you several texts written in different styles and with different approaches. There you can understand what you should focus on and which form to use for your content.

Or, you can order the definition essay on the topic of your choice here at Writingservice247. Our team will be glad to assist you with this and make this challenge successful for you. Contact us at your convenience.