Arguing Definition Essay Ideas

Definition essay explains the meaning of a word or a concept. It's just like explaining a new concept to your friend or acquaintance, with the only difference that it's being done in writing. Generally, there is nothing easier than coming up with a definition essay topic - all you need to do is pick a concept and try to explain it.

While attempting to define or explain a concept, you need to remember that concrete (real world) concepts are a lot easier to explain than abstract ones. Conversely, abstract notions are a lot harder to explain.  


If you are assigned to write a definition essay, read:

How to Write a Definition Essay


Here is a list of free definition topics that can be used to practice a definition essay writing.

Definition Essay Topics List

1. Define the meaning of friendship, love, hatred etc.

2. Explain what "buoyancy" means.

3. Define the meaning of "onomatopoeia", "assonance", "alliteration".

4. Explain the term "Thatcherism".

5. Explain the term "phase" as it relates to homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures.

6. Define the meaning of "confidentiality".

7. Define the phenomenon of convergence.

8. Define the concept of "influence peddling".

9. Define the concept of "culture".

10. Define the term "surface tension".  

11. Is killing animals humanely? 

12. Are carnivorous cannibals? 

13. Is acting the same as pretending? 

14. Is graffiti really art? 

15. Are bananas fruit?  

There also exists a mix of the definition and argument essay topics. You will need to argue that something should or shouldn't be defined in a certain way. The basic formula for such argument of a definition essay is:

"Something is/isn't something else" or "X is/isn't Y".

While explaining a given concept you should bear in mind that your actual explanation will vary depending on the academic level you are writing at. For example, if sixth-grade students were asked to explain what "friendship" is, their essay would most likely start out with

"Friendship is when…” or simply: "It is when…"

While this verbiage may be ok for a junior school, it is outrageously inappropriate to use it during college years. You need to take into account the level you are expected to perform at and make sure your writing matches those expectations, otherwise you're in trouble.


Looking for the definition essay example? Here are 2 sample definition essays written by our writers:

Definition Essay Examples


If you need any assistance writing your definition essay, please feel free to contact our support staff and they will guide you through the entire process, ensuring you have learned to cope with this kind of assignment effectively. Place an order to get an instant quote.

For a definition argument essay, you should choose a controversial concept and argue for the definition you find the most appropriate. Check the topic ideas below to see whether any appeals to you.

  • Ambition.
  • Based on the dictionary definitions and real-world examples, determine whether ambition is generally considered a good or bad human feature. Do people call someone “ambitious” to praise or to reproach?

  • American dream.
  • Explore how the definition of “the American dream” has changed since its emergence. Is there a generally accepted definition today or these words mean different things to different people?

  • Charisma.
  • This feature is attributed to great leaders, such as Steve Jobs or Napoleon, but many people are still confused about what exactly this word means. Look at the various definitions of charisma, and try to formulate your own one.

  • Ego.
  • Originally, “ego” was a psychological term with no negative connotations, but now “a large ego” or “egoist” is commonly used to mean a selfish person. Discuss why, in your opinion, this change has occurred, or whether this negative use is justified.

  • Honor.
  • Some people say that the concept of “honor” is obsolete today. Look closer at the definitions of this word, and decide whether you agree or not.

  • Humor.
  • Humor is something we can hardly imagine our lives without, but there is not a single generally accepted definition of it. Argue for the one you find to be the closest.

  • Music.
  • What makes the difference between music and noise? Can any natural sounds, e. g. those of rain or waves, be considered music, or it can only refer to man-made tunes? You may also discuss a definition of a particular music genre, such as rock or rhythm-and-blues music – there is much controversy around those as well.

  • Optimism.
  • Optimism is typically viewed as an individual’s ability to see the brighter sides of things and considered a positive quality. If you produce a well-supported argument that optimism is misunderstood (or not always good), your essay will definitely stand out.

  • Success.
  • Perhaps one of the most controversial definitions is that of success. Discuss whether it should be associated with wealth and fame, or rather with happiness and a feeling of satisfaction.

  • True love.
  • While “love” is an extensively broad subject to discuss, the concept of “true love” is more manageable. Argue whether it is rightful to divide love in “true” and “untrue” sorts. If the word combination “true love” is in fact an oxymoron, why do you think people keep using it?

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