140 Definition Essay Topics

One of the most complicated essay formats to write for any level of education is a definition essay.

This essay is not only challenging because of the requirement to meticulously choose and analyze specific examples, but this unique format also requires a student to be creative in their writing approach.

With a definition essay, students must choose a word or concept to analyze, explore, and explain. This word or concept is then used as the main topic within the essay.

A definition essay requires students to demonstrate their understanding of a specific concept or word by sharing examples and evidence from their own personal experiences and others.

While writing this type of essay is often rather tricky, choosing a topic to write about can be even tricker.

However, thanks to this handy guide covering 140 definition essay topics and strategies for structuring and writing this type of essay effectively, all students can produce a quality assignment that will earn them the grade they need.

Critical Concepts to Writing a Definition Essay

Before students can begin writing a definition essay, they’ll need to choose a word or concept that:

  • Is familiar
  • Has textual evidence to support their claims
  • Contains enough room for analysis and exploration
  • Has a subjective or disputable definition
  • Can be supported with relevant examples and evidence from their own lives or the lives of others

Once a student has selected a word or concept that meets these requirements, they can begin researching to create an outline detailing their essay’s overall concept and structure.

How to Write a Definition Essay

A definition essay will need at least five paragraphs to be complete. However, depending on the definition’s complexity or the writing parameters set by the instructor, more extended essays may be necessary.


Definition essays start with an introduction that details:

  • The dictionary or encyclopedic definition of the term or concept. This should be the first sentence of the introduction and serve as the topic sentence that engages the reader and entices them to learn more. An example of this could start with,According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of ‘homework’ is….”
  • A bit of background information on what the term is meant to signify. For example, a student may want to start with a statement such as, “In today’s society, the term ‘homework’ signifies a tedious assignment given by a teacher to his or her student.”
  • A thesis statement should end the introduction by defining the term or concept in the writer’s personal view. For example, “Homework is something I have always seen as a tedious assignment given by my teacher…”

Remember that whatever the thesis is, the rest of the essay should be supported through factual evidence or anecdotal tales from friends, family, colleges, and peers.

Body Paragraphs

The body of a definition essay should be structured as at least three paragraphs that explain and explore the definition or concept as it relates to the writer and even society as a whole.

As a general guide, body paragraph structure should be designed in the following way:

  • 1st paragraph – History and origin of the term or concept, including the root word, how it came into use, and who used it first. For example, “The term ‘homework’ originated from the German language and was brought over to American culture in 1879 by a group of educators led by William Holmes McGuffey.”
  • 2nd paragraph – Detailed analysis of the dictionary definition and examination of term or concept from different angles. For example, “In the dictionary, ‘homework’ is defined as a school assignment given to students by their teachers.”
  • 3rd paragraph – Personal opinions and comparisons that describe how the term or concept directly relates to the writer’s own life. For example, “In my opinion, homework is a necessary evil that must be done in order to keep up with all of my other classes.”


The conclusion of a definition essay should summarize the main points made in the body paragraphs and reiterate the original thesis statement. In addition to re-stating the thesis, a writer can use this section to discuss how they or society as a whole has progressed over time in relation to the definition or concept. For example:

“Although homework was once something that students and parents alike used to dread seeing on their nightly agenda, today’s youth have found new tactics for completing schoolwork on time and without worry. However, these new methods aren’t fool-proof, and homework will always be necessary as a form of critical thinking and learning.”

140 Definition Essay Topics

Check out these 140 definition essay topics to use with the handy writing guide above.

Definition Essay Topics About Emotions & Feelings

  1. Happiness
  2. Love
  3. Peace
  4. Tranquility
  5. Anger
  6. Loneliness
  7. Regret
  8. Friendship
  9. Solitude
  10. Grief
  11. Patience
  12. Envy
  13. Kindness
  14. Helplessness/Powerlessness
  15. Jealousy
  16. Greed
  17. Gratitude
  18. Hate
  19. Hope
  20. Fear
  21. Frustration
  22. Humility
  23. Humiliation
  24. Determination
  25. Perseverance
  26. Persistence
  27. Honesty
  28. Truthfulness
  29. Dishonesty
  30. Courtesy
  31. Wonder

Definition Essay Topics About Social Concepts

  1. Homework
  2. Education
  3. Technology
  4. Chivalry
  5. Justice
  6. Heroism
  7. Good versus Evil
  8. Right versus Wrong
  9. Consequences of Actions
  10. Individuality/Dependence
  11. Cultural Awareness/Ethnicity
  12. Cyber-Bullying
  13. Friendship
  14. Family
  15. Motherhood
  16. Fatherhood

Definition Essay Topics About Science & Technology

  1. Artificial intelligence
  2. Higgs boson Particle
  3. Global Warming
  4. Alternative energies
  5. Carbon footprint
  6. Conservation of energy
  7. Metaphysics
  8. Natural disasters
  9. Genetics and heredity
  10. Ecosystems
  11. Habitats
  12. Biodiversity
  13. Atmosphere
  14. Cosmology

Definition Essay Topics About Business & Finance

  1. Entrepreneurship
  2. Budgeting
  3. Financial Literacy
  4. Networking
  5. Negotiating
  6. Business models
  7. Growth of industry
  8. Finance and investments
  9. Marketing strategy
  10. Fraud
  11. Business ethics
  12. Corporate responsibility
  13. Consumerism
  14. Social Entrepreneurship
  15. Responsible business decisions
  16. Stakeholders
  17. Wealth
  18. The 1%

Definition Essay Topics About Fine Art

  1. Music
  2. Art
  3. Dance
  4. Literature
  5. Theatre
  6. Movies/Cinema
  7. Television
  8. Painting
  9. Color Theory
  10. Impressionism
  11. Modern Art
  12. Abstract Art
  13. Mixed Media
  14. Caricatures and Comics
  15. Sculpture
  16. Architecture
  17. Performance Art
  18. Metaphysical Art

Definition Essay Topics About Math

  1. Algebra
  2. Geometry
  3. Trigonometry
  4. Statistics
  5. Chemistry
  6. Physics
  7. Calculus
  8. Sequencing
  9. Proof

Definition Essay Topics About Political Science

  1. Executive Branch of Government
  2. Legislative Branch of Government
  3. Judicial Branch of Government
  4. Politics
  5. Dictatorship
  6. Democracy
  7. Ideologies
  8. Political
  9. Borders
  10. Immigration
  11. Lobbying
  12. Campaigns
  13. Elections
  14. Right to assemble
  15. Political parties
  16. Mock Elections
  17. First Amendment Rights

Definition Essay Topics About English & Literature

  1. Grammar
  2. Writing Techniques
  3. Poetry
  4. Prose
  5. Metaphor
  6. Symbolism
  7. Onomatopoeia
  8. Simile
  9. Personification
  10. Alliteration
  11. Imagery

Definition Essay Topics About History

  1. Ancient
  2. Conspiracy
  3. Warfare
  4. Timelines
  5. Revolution
  6. The Renaissance

And that concludes the list of 140 definition essay topics sure to help you write an informative and impressive essay.

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