Writing a definition essay can seem pretty simple. All you need to do is to pick a word and explain what it means. After all, what can be so hard about it? But wait, it only seems that simple until you start writing. Compared to all other essay types, definition papers can get rather tricky, if not challenging.

To create an A-worthy definition paper, a student needs to look deep into the problem. It is not enough to simply rephrase the standard definition. It is necessary to approach the chosen word from different perspectives, look at it from different angles, consider its origin, and keep an eye for detail. That’s the key to success.

Is that all? Unfortunately, writing itself is not the only problem. A lot depends on whether you can choose an effective topic for definition essay. If you handle this task, you can ensure the success of your essay. But if you fail, no matter how high-quality the content of your essay is, you are most likely to not get a high grade. Thus, it is vital to make the right choice.

Sounds too confusing and complicated? We get you. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we are going to tell you about everything you need to know to always choose brilliant topics. Also, here, we will share with you a list of some good definition essay topics to help you find inspiration and get on the right track!

What Is a Definition Essay?

A definition paper is one of the most common essay types, often assigned in schools and colleges. This type of paper has a similar structure to a regular essay. However, it has a different purpose.

In a nutshell, the core goal of a definition paper is to explain a chosen word, phrase, or complex to the reader. To achieve this goal, a student must carefully study the chosen concept and analyze it.

Some of the key things to include in your essay are:

  • A common dictionary definition (in your own words);
  • Origin of the term;
  • The modern meaning, as well as other, old or less known meanings;
  • History of the word;
  • Your personal opinion.

How long should an essay be? This type of paper is rather short. Typically, it has to be around 500 words. Your goal is to explain the chosen concept to the fullest without exceeding the word limit or making your essay too short.

Since the main focus of this type of essay is a single word or concept, the choice of topic is the most important step. Definition essay topics can be very different. They can be more abstract like morality or justice, as well as more specific like computers or music. In many cases, abstract topics are better as they allow more creativity and give you plenty of scope for research.

In this article, we are going to tell you how to pick a perfect topic for your definition essay and share some great topic ideas that you can choose right now.

How to Make the Right Choice of a Definition Essay Topic

As you probably already know, a good topic is a key to success in writing any academic paper. A definition paper is not an exception. To create a high-scoring paper, you have to know how to choose the right topics for a definition essay. After all, how can you possibly create an A-level essay if your topic does not engage the readers?

Okay, that’s clear, but how can you define what is a good topic for a definition essay and what isn’t? No matter how easy it may seem, choosing the right topic can be pretty troublesome. It shouldn’t be boring. At the same time, it has to give you enough scope for research and be clear.

Finding the right combination can be hard. But, we are here to land you a helping hand! We gathered some of the handiest do’s and don’ts that will help you find good topics for a definition essay at ease.


  • Start in advance to have enough time for choosing a perfect topic and conducting thorough research.
  • Read a few samples of an essay to get a clear idea of what topics other students choose and understand what is expected of you.
  • Make a list of options you can choose from.
  • Opt for topics that are clear and familiar to you.
  • Conduct primary research to collect facts and details about your options.
  • Analyze the available facts to choose the right topic.


  • Don’t choose a topic that is too boring.
  • Don’t opt for too generic words that are clear to everyone.
  • Don’t choose words that don’t have any hidden meaning.
  • Don’t use topics that are too controversial and create debates, since your goal is to define the term but not to argue about something.

These are the basic tips that will help you identify the right topic. But, let us give you one more piece of advice. To ensure that your topic is truly engaging, you should pay close attention to details. Namely, here are the main things you have to learn about the chosen word or term:

  • Background - before you get to writing, you should have a clear idea of the origin of the chosen word. Find out where it came from, who used it first, etc.
  • Meaning - meanings of words have a tendency to transform throughout the years. Thus, it is important to find out if your word had a different meaning initially that changed over time. Conduct research and collect facts from valid sources.
  • Antecedent versions - just like the meaning of the word can change over time, the form itself can change as well. Be sure to check if there were any early versions of the same word.
  • Application - how was this word used in the past? And how is it used today? Discover different applications of the same word (if any) to see if there were any controversies in terms of usage.

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7 Most Common Types of Definition Essay Topics Lists

All definition essay topics can be divided into several categories based on the purpose and nature of the essay you are going to write. To write my paper, you have to choose the right topic category that goes in line with your purpose.

In this section of our article, we are going to take a closer look at the 7 most common definition essay topics and provide high-quality definition essay topics examples for each:

Extended Definition Essay Topics

In a nutshell, this type of work is pretty much the same standard definition paper. The core goal stays the same - your task is to explain a particular word, phrase, or concept. The only key difference is that it requires you to make an even deeper analysis. Also, this type of work allows you to showcase your personal opinion as well.

A perfect topic for this type of work has to be complex enough to let you analyze it deeply. You should pick terms that have a broad meaning.

Now that you know about the key features of this type of paper, here are a few good extended definition essay topic ideas for you to try:

  • What does it mean to be brave and how is it different from having courage?
  • What is faith?
  • What is the true meaning of love?
  • How to define beauty?
  • What does trust mean to you and what role does it play in our lives?
  • What is honesty?
  • How is wisdom different from knowledge?
  • What does it mean to be generous?
  • What is respect and how is it manifested?
  • Why is hatred the most destructive feeling of all?

Definition Argument Essay Topics

A definition argument essay does not only explain a concept but also strives to persuade the reader of something. It requires you to find the argument of definition essay topics that focus on an ill-defined or controversial concept. Then, you need to define your stance on a particular matter and convince readers of your perspective.

Here are some good definition argument essay topics to consider:

  • Mobile devices should be allowed in the classroom
  • Racial segregation in the US
  • What are the worst crimes of all?
  • Is the death penalty arrogance or justice?
  • Sports is the best hobby for youth
  • What is patriotism and why it is vital in the modern world?
  • Global warming: What is it and what are the main causes?
  • Why is corporate social responsibility inherent in the corporate world?
  • Should uniforms be obligatory in every school?
  • Should schools stop assigning homework?

Definition Essay Topics for College

College definition papers have the same purpose and overall requirements as a standard definition essay. The main difference is that they have to be deeper, show a solid understanding of the concept being defined, and masterfully written.

To help you get on the right track, we have prepared 10 great definition essay topics for college:

  • Who can be called a best friend?
  • What does it mean to have good mental health?
  • Define male chauvinism.
  • What is the true nature of hatred?
  • What is brand loyalty and why does it matter?
  • Define cyberbullying.
  • The phenomenon of antisemitism.
  • What is success?
  • Define maturity.
  • What does self-determination mean?

Funny Definition Essay Topics

While there is no place for humor in most essay types, a definition paper allows you to showcase your sense of humor by choosing a funny concept to define or offering readers an amusing viewpoint on something.

Here a funny definition essay topics list to help you find inspiration:

  • Why are funny cats videos the best thing in the world?
  • The most awkward date.
  • What is sarcasm and why don't people get it?
  • Why should [a celebrity of your choice] go for the next US president?
  • Why do people love advertisements?
  • Why are dogs people’s best friends?
  • High-school stereotypes and why they can be good for you?
  • Why should animals have more rights than people?
  • How to become the most annoying you can be?
  • How to waste your time right and always get away with it?

Controversial Definition Essay Topics

Definition essay topics that have a controversy to them may be hard to disclose in a paper, but they are really fun to write about. Here are a few controversial topics examples to think about:

  • Is happiness really that important?
  • Are vaccines good or bad for us?
  • Playing video games is good for you.
  • What is nationalism and why it is bad?
  • Is e-learning more or less effective?
  • Artificial Intelligence: A new stage of evolution or a global hazard?
  • The pros and cons of spam.
  • What measures of punishment are unacceptable in a healthy family?
  • Is romance dead these days?
  • What are the positive aspects of war?

Abstract Definition Essay Topics

While more specific words and terms are easier to define, more abstract topics can give you more space for creativity. Abstract topics with multiple meanings allow you to interpret a chosen word or concept in your own way.

Here is a list of some good abstract topics to choose from:

  • What is freedom?
  • Compassion: How to define it and why it is important?
  • What does being lonely mean to you?
  • What is boredom?
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
  • What is grief?
  • Why do friendships mean so much in our lives?
  • Explain the concept of adolescence.
  • Define charisma.
  • What is civility?

Easy Definition Essay Topics

It is great if you are willing to explore a complex concept in your essay. But, remember that it is also okay if you are looking more into easy topics. Easy definition essay topics are only different because you can explain them based on a dictionary definition.

Typically, words, phrases, and concepts that are easy to define are pretty specific and narrowed, here are a few ideas:

  • What does family mean to you?
  • Explain democracy.
  • Define the term equal rights.
  • What is poverty?
  • What can make a certain house your home?
  • What does it mean to be kind?
  • Explain terrorism.
  • What does marriage mean to you?
  • What is e-commerce?
  • Define colonization.

More Definition Essay Topic Ideas by Category

If you didn’t find your perfect topic yet, don’t worry! We’ve prepared a list of additional definition essay example topics for you divided by popular categories:

Topics for Definition Essay about Poetry, Love, and Music

  • What does platonic love mean?
  • Define poetry.
  • Why is poetry one of the most admired forms of art?
  • How is love expressed in different cultures?
  • Why we love music?
  • Music as another form of communication.
  • Define the connection between music and emotions.

Definition Essay Topics about Food, Health, and Sport

  • What is health and why is it important?
  • Explain mental health.
  • Why is doing sports good for you?
  • What is the difference between mental and physical health?
  • What is healthy eating?
  • Explain the impact of the food we eat on our health.

Definition Essay Topics about Environment and Nature

  • What is nature?
  • Define what is an environment.
  • The origin of the word “environment.”
  • Provide different definitions of nature.
  • What is deforestation?
  • Define the term “endangered species.”

Definition Essay Topics About Politics, History, and Governance

  • The origin of the word “politics.”
  • What is politics?
  • What is history?
  • The evolution of the term “history.”
  • Define the term governance.
  • What are the different forms of governance?

Definition Essay Topics About IT, Business, Commerce, and Economics

  • What is e-commerce?
  • What does it mean to be a businessperson?
  • Explain economic freedom.
  • The origin of the term “IT”
  • What does business ethics mean?

The Bottom Line

To wrap up everything we’ve discussed in this article, let’s take a look at the key rules of choosing a good definition essay topic once more:

  • The word or concept you are going to define should have multiple meanings.
  • It should be more specific than broad.
  • You should choose a topic you are personally interested in.
  • It should be something you are familiar with.
  • It is vital to analyze the chosen concept well, which also means identifying its origins, common meanings, etc.
  • It can be helpful to figure out the history of the word or term and its previous versions.

Choosing a topic for a definition essay is hard. But writing the paper itself is even harder. It takes solid skills, an in-depth understanding of the subject matter, and quite a lot of time to create an A-worthy essay.

However, don’t get stressed if you are feeling stuck! If you lack time for writing a definition paper or simply have no idea how to do it, ask the team of PaperWriter and buy an essay, we are always here to help you! Trust real pros to write your paper and get an A+ with ease!