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It’s the roadmap to your essay, it’s the forecast for your argument, it’s...your introduction paragraph, and writing one can feel pretty intimidating. The introduction paragraph is a part of just about every kind of academic writing , from persuasive essays to research papers. But that doesn’t mean writing one is easy!

If trying to write an intro paragraph makes you feel like a Muggle trying to do magic, trust us: you aren’t alone. But there are some tips and tricks that can make the process easier—and that’s where we come in.

In this article, we’re going to explain how to write a captivating intro paragraph by covering the following info:  

  • A discussion of what an introduction paragraph is and its purpose in an essay
  • An overview of the most effective introduction paragraph format, with explanations of the three main parts of an intro paragraph
  • An analysis of real intro paragraph examples, with a discussion of what works and what doesn’t
  • A list of four top tips on how to write an introduction paragraph

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

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What Is an Introduction Paragraph? 

An introduction paragraph is the first paragraph of an essay , paper, or other type of academic writing. Argumentative essays , book reports, research papers, and even personal  essays are common types of writing that require an introduction paragraph. Whether you’re writing a research paper for a science course or an argumentative essay for English class , you’re going to have to write an intro paragraph. 

So what’s the purpose of an intro paragraph? As a reader’s first impression of your essay, the intro paragraph should introduce the topic of your paper. 

Your introduction will also state any claims, questions, or issues that your paper will focus on. This is commonly known as your paper’s thesis . This condenses the overall point of your paper into one or two short sentences that your reader can come back and reference later.

But intro paragraphs need to do a bit more than just introduce your topic. An intro paragraph is also supposed to grab your reader’s attention. The intro paragraph is your chance to provide just enough info and intrigue to make your reader say, “Hey, this topic sounds interesting. I think I’ll keep reading this essay!” That can help your essay stand out from the crowd.

In most cases, an intro paragraph will be relatively short. A good intro will be clear, brief, purposeful, and focused. While there are some exceptions to this rule, it’s common for intro paragraphs to consist of three to five sentences . 

Effectively introducing your essay’s topic, purpose, and getting your reader invested in your essay sounds like a lot to ask from one little paragraph, huh? In the next section, we’ll demystify the intro paragraph format by breaking it down into its core parts . When you learn how to approach each part of an intro, writing one won’t seem so scary!

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Once you figure out the three parts of an intro paragraph, writing one will be a piece of cake!

The 3 Main Parts of an Intro Paragraph

In general, an intro paragraph is going to have three main parts: a hook, context, and a thesis statement . Each of these pieces of the intro plays a key role in acquainting the reader with the topic and purpose of your essay. 

Below, we’ll explain how to start an introduction paragraph by writing an effective hook, providing context, and crafting a thesis statement. When you put these elements together, you’ll have an intro paragraph that does a great job of making a great first impression on your audience!

Intro Paragraph Part 1: The Hook

When it comes to how to start an introduction paragraph, o ne of the most common approaches is to start with something called a hook. 

What does hook mean here, though? Think of it this way: it’s like when you start a new Netflix series: you look up a few hours (and a few episodes) later and you say, “Whoa. I guess I must be hooked on this show!” 

That’s how the hook is supposed to work in an intro paragrap h: it should get your reader interested enough that they don’t want to press the proverbial “pause” button while they’re reading it . In other words, a hook is designed to grab your reader’s attention and keep them reading your essay! 

This means that the hook comes first in the intro paragraph format—it’ll be the opening sentence of your intro. 

It’s important to realize  that there are many different ways to write a good hook. But generally speaking, hooks must include these two things: what your topic is, and the angle you’re taking on that topic in your essay. 

One approach to writing a hook that works is starting with a general, but interesting, statement on your topic. In this type of hook, you’re trying to provide a broad introduction to your topic and your angle on the topic in an engaging way . 

For example, if you’re writing an essay about the role of the government in the American healthcare system, your hook might look something like this: 

There's a growing movement to require that the federal government provide affordable, effective healthcare for all Americans. 

This hook introduces the essay topic in a broad way (government and healthcare) by presenting a general statement on the topic. But the assumption presented in the hook can also be seen as controversial, which gets readers interested in learning more about what the writer—and the essay—has to say.

In other words, the statement above fulfills the goals of a good hook: it’s intriguing and provides a general introduction to the essay topic.

Intro Paragraph Part 2: Context

Once you’ve provided an attention-grabbing hook, you’ll want to give more context about your essay topic. Context refers to additional details that reveal the specific focus of your paper. So, whereas the hook provides a general introduction to your topic, context starts helping readers understand what exactly you’re going to be writing about

You can include anywhere from one to several sentences of context in your intro, depending on your teacher’s expectations, the length of your paper, and complexity of your topic. In these context-providing sentences, you want to begin narrowing the focus of your intro. You can do this by describing a specific issue or question about your topic that you’ll address in your essay. It also helps readers start to understand why the topic you’re writing about matters and why they should read about it. 

So, what counts as context for an intro paragraph? Context can be any important details or descriptions that provide background on existing perspectives, common cultural attitudes, or a specific situation or controversy relating to your essay topic. The context you include should acquaint your reader with the issues, questions, or events that motivated you to write an essay on your topic...and that your reader should know in order to understand your thesis. 

For instance, if you’re writing an essay analyzing the consequences of sexism in Hollywood, the context you include after your hook might make reference to the #metoo and #timesup movements that have generated public support for victims of sexual harassment. 

The key takeaway here is that context establishes why you’re addressing your topic and what makes it important. It also sets you up for success on the final piece of an intro paragraph: the thesis statement.

Elle Woods' statement offers a specific point of view on the topic of murder...which means it could serve as a pretty decent thesis statement!

Intro Paragraph Part 3: The Thesis

The final key part of how to write an intro paragraph is the thesis statement. The thesis statement is the backbone of your introduction: it conveys your argument or point of view on your topic in a clear, concise, and compelling way . The thesis is usually the last sentence of your intro paragraph. 

Whether it’s making a claim, outlining key points, or stating a hypothesis, your thesis statement will tell your reader exactly what idea(s) are going to be addressed in your essay. A good thesis statement will be clear, straightforward, and highlight the overall point you’re trying to make.

Some instructors also ask students to include an essay map as part of their thesis. An essay map is a section that outlines the major topics a paper will address. So for instance, say you’re writing a paper that argues for the importance of public transport in rural communities. Your thesis and essay map might look like this: 

Having public transport in rural communities helps people improve their economic situation by giving them reliable transportation to their job, reducing the amount of money they spend on gas, and providing new and unionized work .

The underlined section is the essay map because it touches on the three big things the writer will talk about later. It literally maps out the rest of the essay!

So let’s review: Your thesis takes the idea you’ve introduced in your hook and context and wraps it up. Think of it like a television episode: the hook sets the scene by presenting a general statement and/or interesting idea that sucks you in. The context advances the plot by describing the topic in more detail and helping readers understand why the topic is important. And finally, the thesis statement provides the climax by telling the reader what you have to say about the topic. 

The thesis statement is the most important part of the intro. Without it, your reader won’t know what the purpose of your essay is! And for a piece of writing to be effective, it needs to have a clear purpose. Your thesis statement conveys that purpose , so it’s important to put careful thought into writing a clear and compelling thesis statement. 

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How To Write an Introduction Paragraph: Example and Analysis

Now that we’ve provided an intro paragraph outline and have explained the three key parts of an intro paragraph, let’s take a look at an intro paragraph in action.

To show you how an intro paragraph works, we’ve included a sample introduction paragraph below, followed by an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses.

Example of Introduction Paragraph

While college students in the U.S. are struggling with how to pay for college, there is another surprising demographic that’s affected by the pressure to pay for college: families and parents. In the face of tuition price tags that total more than $100,000 (as a low estimate), families must make difficult decisions about how to save for their children’s college education. Charting a feasible path to saving for college is further complicated by the FAFSA’s estimates for an “Expected Family Contribution”—an amount of money that is rarely feasible for most American families. Due to these challenging financial circumstances and cultural pressure to give one’s children the best possible chance of success in adulthood, many families are going into serious debt to pay for their children’s college education. The U.S. government should move toward bearing more of the financial burden of college education. 

Example of Introduction Paragraph: Analysis

Before we dive into analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of this example intro paragraph, let’s establish the essay topic. The sample intro indicates that t he essay topic will focus on one specific issue: who should cover the cost of college education in the U.S., and why. Both the hook and the context help us identify the topic, while the thesis in the last sentence tells us why this topic matters to the writer—they think the U.S. Government needs to help finance college education. This is also the writer’s argument, which they’ll cover in the body of their essay. 

Now that we’ve identified the essay topic presented in the sample intro, let’s dig into some analysis. To pin down its strengths and weaknesses, we’re going to use the following three questions to guide our example of introduction paragraph analysis: 

  • Does this intro provide an attention-grabbing opening sentence that conveys the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide relevant, engaging context about the essay topic? 
  • Does this intro provide a thesis statement that establishes the writer’s point of view on the topic and what specific aspects of the issue the essay will address? 

Now, let’s use the questions above to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this sample intro paragraph. 

Does the Intro Have a Good Hook? 

First, the intro starts out with an attention-grabbing hook . The writer starts by presenting  an assumption (that the U.S. federal government bears most of the financial burden of college education), which makes the topic relatable to a wide audience of readers. Also note that the hook relates to the general topic of the essay, which is the high cost of college education. 

The hook then takes a surprising turn by presenting a counterclaim : that American families, rather than students, feel the true burden of paying for college. Some readers will have a strong emotional reaction to this provocative counterclaim, which will make them want to keep reading! As such, this intro provides an effective opening sentence that conveys the essay topic. 

Does the Intro Give Context?

T he second, third, and fourth sentences of the intro provide contextual details that reveal the specific focus of the writer’s paper . Remember: the context helps readers start to zoom in on what the paper will focus on, and what aspect of the general topic (college costs) will be discussed later on. 

The context in this intro reveals the intent and direction of the paper by explaining why the issue of families financing college is important. In other words, the context helps readers understand why this issue matters , and what aspects of this issue will be addressed in the paper.  

To provide effective context, the writer refers to issues (the exorbitant cost of college and high levels of family debt) that have received a lot of recent scholarly and media attention. These sentences of context also elaborate on the interesting perspective included in the hook: that American families are most affected by college costs.

Does the Intro Have a Thesis? 

Finally, this intro provides a thesis statement that conveys the writer’s point of view on the issue of financing college education. This writer believes that the U.S. government should do more to pay for students’ college educations. 

However, the thesis statement doesn’t give us any details about why the writer has made this claim or why this will help American families . There isn’t an essay map that helps readers understand what points the writer will make in the essay.

To revise this thesis statement so that it establishes the specific aspects of the topic that the essay will address, the writer could add the following to the beginning of the thesis statement:

The U.S. government should take on more of the financial burden of college education because other countries have shown this can improve education rates while reducing levels of familial poverty.

Check out the new section in bold. Not only does it clarify that the writer is talking about the pressure put on families, it touches on the big topics the writer will address in the paper: improving education rates and reduction of poverty. So not only do we have a clearer argumentative statement in this thesis, we also have an essay map!  

So, let’s recap our analysis. This sample intro paragraph does an effective job of providing an engaging hook and relatable, interesting context, but the thesis statement needs some work ! As you write your own intro paragraphs, you might consider using the questions above to evaluate and revise your work. Doing this will help ensure you’ve covered all of your bases and written an intro that your readers will find interesting!

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4 Tips for How To Write an Introduction Paragraph

Now that we’ve gone over an example of introduction paragraph analysis, let’s talk about how to write an introduction paragraph of your own. Keep reading for four tips for writing a successful intro paragraph for any essay. 

Tip 1: Analyze Your Essay Prompt

If you’re having trouble with how to start an introduction paragraph, analyze your essay prompt! Most teachers give you some kind of assignment sheet, formal instructions, or prompt to set the expectations for an essay they’ve assigned, right? Those instructions can help guide you as you write your intro paragraph!

Because they’ll be reading and responding to your essay, you want to make sure you meet your teacher’s expectations for an intro paragraph . For instance, if they’ve provided specific instructions about how long the intro should be or where the thesis statement should be located, be sure to follow them!

The type of paper you’re writing can give you clues as to how to approach your intro as well. If you’re writing a research paper, your professor might expect you to provide a research question or state a hypothesis in your intro. If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you’ll need to make sure your intro overviews the context surrounding your argument and your thesis statement includes a clear, defensible claim. 

Using the parameters set out by your instructor and assignment sheet can put some easy-to-follow boundaries in place for things like your intro’s length, structure, and content. Following these guidelines can free you up to focus on other aspects of your intro... like coming up with an exciting hook and conveying your point of view on your topic!

Tip 2: Narrow Your Topic

You can’t write an intro paragraph without first identifying your topic. To make your intro as effective as possible, you need to define the parameters of your topic clearly—and you need to be specific. 

For example, let’s say you want to write about college football. “NCAA football” is too broad of a topic for a paper. There is a lot to talk about in terms of college football! It would be tough to write an intro paragraph that’s focused, purposeful, and engaging on this topic. In fact, if you did try to address this whole topic, you’d probably end up writing a book!

Instead, you should narrow broad topics to  identify a specific question, claim, or issue pertaining to some aspect of NCAA football for your intro to be effective. So, for instance, you could frame your topic as, “How can college professors better support NCAA football players in academics?” This focused topic pertaining to NCAA football would give you a more manageable angle to discuss in your paper.

So before you think about writing your intro, ask yourself: Is my essay topic specific, focused, and logical? Does it convey an issue or question that I can explore over the course of several pages? Once you’ve established a good topic, you’ll have the foundation you need to write an effective intro paragraph . 

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Once you've figured out your topic, it's time to hit the books!

Tip 3: Do Your Research

This tip is tightly intertwined with the one above, and it’s crucial to writing a good intro: do your research! And, guess what? This tip applies to all papers—even ones that aren’t technically research papers. 

Here’s why you need to do some research: getting the lay of the land on what others have said about your topic—whether that’s scholars and researchers or the mass media— will help you narrow your topic, write an engaging hook, and provide relatable context. 

You don't want to sit down to write your intro without a solid understanding of the different perspectives on your topic. Whether those are the perspectives of experts or the general public, these points of view will help you write your intro in a way that is intriguing and compelling for your audience of readers. 

Tip 4: Write Multiple Drafts

Some say to write your intro first; others say write it last. The truth is, there isn’t a right or wrong time to write your intro—but you do need to have enough time to write multiple drafts . 

Oftentimes, your professor will ask you to write multiple drafts of your paper, which gives you a built-in way to make sure you revise your intro. Another approach you could take is to write out a rough draft of your intro before you begin writing your essay, then revise it multiple times as you draft out your paper. 

Here’s why this approach can work: as you write your paper, you’ll probably come up with new insights on your topic that you didn’t have right from the start. You can use these “light bulb” moments to reevaluate your intro and make revisions that keep it in line with your developing essay draft. 

Once you’ve written your entire essay, consider going back and revising your intro again . You can ask yourself these questions as you evaluate your intro: 

  • Is my hook still relevant to the way I’ve approached the topic in my essay?
  • Do I provide enough appropriate context to introduce my essay? 
  • Now that my essay is written, does my thesis statement still accurately reflect the point of view that I present in my essay?

Using these questions as a guide and putting your intro through multiple revisions will help ensure that you’ve written the best intro for the final draft of your essay. Also, revising your writing is always a good thing to do—and this applies to your intro, too!

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What's Next?

Your college essays also need great intro paragraphs. Here’s a guide that focuses on how to write the perfect intro for your admissions essays. 

Of course, the intro is just one part of your college essay . This article will teach you how to write a college essay that makes admissions counselors sit up and take notice.

Are you trying to write an analytical essay? Our step-by-step guide can help you knock it out of the park.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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How to Write an Essay Introduction (with Examples)   

essay introduction

The introduction of an essay plays a critical role in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay, establishes the tone and style, and motivates the reader to continue reading. 

Table of Contents

What is an essay introduction , what to include in an essay introduction, how to create an essay structure , step-by-step process for writing an essay introduction , how to write an introduction paragraph , how to write a hook for your essay , how to include background information , how to write a thesis statement .

  • Argumentative Essay Introduction Example: 
  • Expository Essay Introduction Example 

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction Example

Check and revise – checklist for essay introduction , key takeaways , frequently asked questions .

An introduction is the opening section of an essay, paper, or other written work. It introduces the topic and provides background information, context, and an overview of what the reader can expect from the rest of the work. 1 The key is to be concise and to the point, providing enough information to engage the reader without delving into excessive detail. 

The essay introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire piece and provides the reader with a roadmap of what to expect. Here are key elements to include in your essay introduction: 

  • Hook : Start with an attention-grabbing statement or question to engage the reader. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a compelling anecdote. 
  • Background information : Provide context and background information to help the reader understand the topic. This can include historical information, definitions of key terms, or an overview of the current state of affairs related to your topic. 
  • Thesis statement : Clearly state your main argument or position on the topic. Your thesis should be concise and specific, providing a clear direction for your essay. 

Before we get into how to write an essay introduction, we need to know how it is structured. The structure of an essay is crucial for organizing your thoughts and presenting them clearly and logically. It is divided as follows: 2  

  • Introduction:  The introduction should grab the reader’s attention with a hook, provide context, and include a thesis statement that presents the main argument or purpose of the essay.  
  • Body:  The body should consist of focused paragraphs that support your thesis statement using evidence and analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a single central idea or argument and provide evidence, examples, or analysis to back it up.  
  • Conclusion:  The conclusion should summarize the main points and restate the thesis differently. End with a final statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Avoid new information or arguments. 

first paragraph definition essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an essay introduction: 

  • Start with a Hook : Begin your introduction paragraph with an attention-grabbing statement, question, quote, or anecdote related to your topic. The hook should pique the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading. 
  • Provide Background Information : This helps the reader understand the relevance and importance of the topic. 
  • State Your Thesis Statement : The last sentence is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be clear, concise, and directly address the topic of your essay. 
  • Preview the Main Points : This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and how you will support your thesis. 
  • Keep it Concise and Clear : Avoid going into too much detail or including information not directly relevant to your topic. 
  • Revise : Revise your introduction after you’ve written the rest of your essay to ensure it aligns with your final argument. 

Here’s an example of an essay introduction paragraph about the importance of education: 

Education is often viewed as a fundamental human right and a key social and economic development driver. As Nelson Mandela once famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is the key to unlocking a wide range of opportunities and benefits for individuals, societies, and nations. In today’s constantly evolving world, education has become even more critical. It has expanded beyond traditional classroom learning to include digital and remote learning, making education more accessible and convenient. This essay will delve into the importance of education in empowering individuals to achieve their dreams, improving societies by promoting social justice and equality, and driving economic growth by developing a skilled workforce and promoting innovation. 

This introduction paragraph example includes a hook (the quote by Nelson Mandela), provides some background information on education, and states the thesis statement (the importance of education). 

This is one of the key steps in how to write an essay introduction. Crafting a compelling hook is vital because it sets the tone for your entire essay and determines whether your readers will stay interested. A good hook draws the reader in and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.  

  • Avoid Dry Fact : Instead of simply stating a bland fact, try to make it engaging and relevant to your topic. For example, if you’re writing about the benefits of exercise, you could start with a startling statistic like, “Did you know that regular exercise can increase your lifespan by up to seven years?” 
  • Avoid Using a Dictionary Definition : While definitions can be informative, they’re not always the most captivating way to start an essay. Instead, try to use a quote, anecdote, or provocative question to pique the reader’s interest. For instance, if you’re writing about freedom, you could begin with a quote from a famous freedom fighter or philosopher. 
  • Do Not Just State a Fact That the Reader Already Knows : This ties back to the first point—your hook should surprise or intrigue the reader. For Here’s an introduction paragraph example, if you’re writing about climate change, you could start with a thought-provoking statement like, “Despite overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe in the reality of climate change.” 

Including background information in the introduction section of your essay is important to provide context and establish the relevance of your topic. When writing the background information, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start with a General Statement:  Begin with a general statement about the topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific focus. For example, when discussing the impact of social media, you can begin by making a broad statement about social media and its widespread use in today’s society, as follows: “Social media has become an integral part of modern life, with billions of users worldwide.” 
  • Define Key Terms : Define any key terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to your readers but are essential for understanding your argument. 
  • Provide Relevant Statistics:  Use statistics or facts to highlight the significance of the issue you’re discussing. For instance, “According to a report by Statista, the number of social media users is expected to reach 4.41 billion by 2025.” 
  • Discuss the Evolution:  Mention previous research or studies that have been conducted on the topic, especially those that are relevant to your argument. Mention key milestones or developments that have shaped its current impact. You can also outline some of the major effects of social media. For example, you can briefly describe how social media has evolved, including positives such as increased connectivity and issues like cyberbullying and privacy concerns. 
  • Transition to Your Thesis:  Use the background information to lead into your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument or purpose of your essay. For example, “Given its pervasive influence, it is crucial to examine the impact of social media on mental health.” 

first paragraph definition essay

A thesis statement is a concise summary of the main point or claim of an essay, research paper, or other type of academic writing. It appears near the end of the introduction. Here’s how to write a thesis statement: 

  • Identify the topic:  Start by identifying the topic of your essay. For example, if your essay is about the importance of exercise for overall health, your topic is “exercise.” 
  • State your position:  Next, state your position or claim about the topic. This is the main argument or point you want to make. For example, if you believe that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, your position could be: “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health.” 
  • Support your position:  Provide a brief overview of the reasons or evidence that support your position. These will be the main points of your essay. For example, if you’re writing an essay about the importance of exercise, you could mention the physical health benefits, mental health benefits, and the role of exercise in disease prevention. 
  • Make it specific:  Ensure your thesis statement clearly states what you will discuss in your essay. For example, instead of saying, “Exercise is good for you,” you could say, “Regular exercise, including cardiovascular and strength training, can improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.” 

Examples of essay introduction 

Here are examples of essay introductions for different types of essays: 

Argumentative Essay Introduction Example:  

Topic: Should the voting age be lowered to 16? 

“The question of whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has sparked nationwide debate. While some argue that 16-year-olds lack the requisite maturity and knowledge to make informed decisions, others argue that doing so would imbue young people with agency and give them a voice in shaping their future.” 

Expository Essay Introduction Example  

Topic: The benefits of regular exercise 

“In today’s fast-paced world, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. From improving physical health to boosting mental well-being, the benefits of exercise are numerous and far-reaching. This essay will examine the various advantages of regular exercise and provide tips on incorporating it into your daily routine.” 

Text: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee 

“Harper Lee’s novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is a timeless classic that explores themes of racism, injustice, and morality in the American South. Through the eyes of young Scout Finch, the reader is taken on a journey that challenges societal norms and forces characters to confront their prejudices. This essay will analyze the novel’s use of symbolism, character development, and narrative structure to uncover its deeper meaning and relevance to contemporary society.” 

  • Engaging and Relevant First Sentence : The opening sentence captures the reader’s attention and relates directly to the topic. 
  • Background Information : Enough background information is introduced to provide context for the thesis statement. 
  • Definition of Important Terms : Key terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to the audience or are central to the argument are defined. 
  • Clear Thesis Statement : The thesis statement presents the main point or argument of the essay. 
  • Relevance to Main Body : Everything in the introduction directly relates to and sets up the discussion in the main body of the essay. 

first paragraph definition essay

Writing a strong introduction is crucial for setting the tone and context of your essay. Here are the key takeaways for how to write essay introduction: 3  

  • Hook the Reader : Start with an engaging hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be a compelling question, a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or an anecdote. 
  • Provide Background : Give a brief overview of the topic, setting the context and stage for the discussion. 
  • Thesis Statement : State your thesis, which is the main argument or point of your essay. It should be concise, clear, and specific. 
  • Preview the Structure : Outline the main points or arguments to help the reader understand the organization of your essay. 
  • Keep it Concise : Avoid including unnecessary details or information not directly related to your thesis. 
  • Revise and Edit : Revise your introduction to ensure clarity, coherence, and relevance. Check for grammar and spelling errors. 
  • Seek Feedback : Get feedback from peers or instructors to improve your introduction further. 

The purpose of an essay introduction is to give an overview of the topic, context, and main ideas of the essay. It is meant to engage the reader, establish the tone for the rest of the essay, and introduce the thesis statement or central argument.  

An essay introduction typically ranges from 5-10% of the total word count. For example, in a 1,000-word essay, the introduction would be roughly 50-100 words. However, the length can vary depending on the complexity of the topic and the overall length of the essay.

An essay introduction is critical in engaging the reader and providing contextual information about the topic. To ensure its effectiveness, consider incorporating these key elements: a compelling hook, background information, a clear thesis statement, an outline of the essay’s scope, a smooth transition to the body, and optional signposting sentences.  

The process of writing an essay introduction is not necessarily straightforward, but there are several strategies that can be employed to achieve this end. When experiencing difficulty initiating the process, consider the following techniques: begin with an anecdote, a quotation, an image, a question, or a startling fact to pique the reader’s interest. It may also be helpful to consider the five W’s of journalism: who, what, when, where, why, and how.   For instance, an anecdotal opening could be structured as follows: “As I ascended the stage, momentarily blinded by the intense lights, I could sense the weight of a hundred eyes upon me, anticipating my next move. The topic of discussion was climate change, a subject I was passionate about, and it was my first public speaking event. Little did I know , that pivotal moment would not only alter my perspective but also chart my life’s course.” 

Crafting a compelling thesis statement for your introduction paragraph is crucial to grab your reader’s attention. To achieve this, avoid using overused phrases such as “In this paper, I will write about” or “I will focus on” as they lack originality. Instead, strive to engage your reader by substantiating your stance or proposition with a “so what” clause. While writing your thesis statement, aim to be precise, succinct, and clear in conveying your main argument.  

To create an effective essay introduction, ensure it is clear, engaging, relevant, and contains a concise thesis statement. It should transition smoothly into the essay and be long enough to cover necessary points but not become overwhelming. Seek feedback from peers or instructors to assess its effectiveness. 

References  

  • Cui, L. (2022). Unit 6 Essay Introduction.  Building Academic Writing Skills . 
  • West, H., Malcolm, G., Keywood, S., & Hill, J. (2019). Writing a successful essay.  Journal of Geography in Higher Education ,  43 (4), 609-617. 
  • Beavers, M. E., Thoune, D. L., & McBeth, M. (2023). Bibliographic Essay: Reading, Researching, Teaching, and Writing with Hooks: A Queer Literacy Sponsorship. College English, 85(3), 230-242. 

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UMGC Effective Writing Center The Introductory Paragraph

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The paragraph that begins an essay causes students the most trouble, yet carries the most importance. Although its precise construction varies from genre to genre (and from essay to essay), good introductory paragraphs generally accomplish the same tasks and follow a few basic patterns. Some of them are listed below, but keep in mind that what follows are guidelines, not immutable templates.

Tasks:  The introductory paragraph to a short essay usually attempts to do three things:

  • Introduce the topic  with some indication of its inherent interest or importance, and a clear definition of the boundaries of the subject area
  • Indicate the structure and/or methodology of the essay , often with the major sections of the essay or its structural principle clearly stated
  • State the thesis of the essay , preferably in a single, arguable statement with a clear main clause

Not every essay does all three in the first paragraph, and the degree to which an essay declares its structure or methodology may vary widely, depending on how necessary that information will be to the readers. Sometimes, the entire first paragraph will serve no other purpose than to generate interest in the subject or raise a question, leaving the other tasks for the second paragraph. However, this kind of opening requires a lot of skill, and you can lose your readers in the second and third paragraphs if do not make your purpose clear.

Patterns:  The standard pattern for an introductory paragraph follows the order of the tasks outlined above. Below is an outline of that pattern, written as if it were the first section of a formal outline of the entire essay:

Introduction

  • Its boundaries
  • Why it is interesting
  • The essay’s main sections (structure)
  • Why they come in that order (structural principle)
  • How the author plans to draw the necessary conclusions from the information available (methodology)
  • Its premise (the general claim about the information available)
  • Its conclusion (the consequences of the first claim)

Not every essay contains every element in precisely this order, but most good essays cover all of them, either explicitly or implicitly. In longer and more scholarly essays, the structure/methodology section should be longer, or can even be its own paragraph. It should also include some mention of the essay’s position within the field as a whole.

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Examples of Great Introductory Paragraphs

How to Grab Your Reader's Attention With a Few Words

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

An introductory paragraph, as the opening of a conventional essay,  composition , or  report , is designed to grab people's attention. It informs readers about the topic and why they should care about it but also adds enough intrigue to get them to continue to read. In short, the opening paragraph is your chance to make a great first impression.

Below, we'll dive into a couple of key elements that make a good introductory paragraph, like clearly outlining the topic and purpose, and examine some dynamic strategies for engaging your audience, such as posing a question or using a brief anecdote.

Writing a Good Introductory Paragraph

The primary purpose of an introductory paragraph is to pique the interest of your reader and identify the topic and purpose of the essay . It often ends with a thesis statement .

You can  engage your readers right from the start through several tried-and-true ways. Posing a question, defining the key term, giving a brief anecdote , using a playful joke or emotional appeal, or pulling out an interesting fact are just a few approaches you can take. Use imagery, details, and sensory information to connect with the reader if you can. The key is to add intrigue along with just enough information so your readers want to find out more. 

One way to do this is to come up with a brilliant opening line . Even the most mundane topics have aspects interesting enough to write about; otherwise, you wouldn't be writing about them, right?

When you begin writing a new piece, think about what your readers want or need to know. Use your knowledge of the topic to craft an opening line that will satisfy that need. You don't want to fall into the trap of what writers call " chasers ," or boring and cliche introductions (such as "The dictionary defines...."). The introduction should make sense and hook the reader right from the start.

Make your introductory paragraph brief. Typically, just three or four sentences are enough to set the stage for both long and short essays. You can go into supporting information in the body of your essay, so don't tell the audience everything all at once.

Should You Write the Intro First?

You can always adjust your introductory paragraph later. Sometimes you just have to start writing. You can start at the beginning or dive right into the heart of your essay.

Your first draft may not have the best opening, but as you continue to write, new ideas will come to you, and your thoughts will develop a clearer focus. Take note of these and, as you work through revisions , refine and edit your opening. 

If you're struggling with the opening, follow the lead of other writers and skip it for the moment. Many writers begin with the body and conclusion and come back to the introduction later. It's a useful, time-efficient approach if you find yourself stuck in those first few words, especially if you have an outline completed or a general framework informally mapped out. If you don't have an outline, even just starting to sketch one can help organize your thoughts and "prime the pump," as it were.

Examples of Successful Introductory Paragraphs

You can read all the advice you want about writing a compelling opening, but it's often easier to learn by example. Take a look at how some writers approached their essays and analyze why they work so well.

Tell a Joke and Spark Curiosity

Mary Zeigler, " How to Catch River Crabs "

"As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared."

What did Zeigler do in her introduction? First, she wrote a little joke, but it serves a dual purpose. Not only does it set the stage for her slightly more humorous approach to crabbing, but it also clarifies what type of "crabber" she's writing about. This is important if your subject has more than one meaning.

The other thing that makes this a successful introduction is the fact that Zeigler leaves us wondering. What do we have to be prepared for? Will the crabs jump up and latch onto you? Is it a messy job? What tools and gear do I need? She leaves us with questions, and that draws us in because now we want answers.

Use Vivid Imagery

"Shopping at the Pig"

"Working part-time as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly has given me a great opportunity to observe human behavior. Sometimes I think of the shoppers as white rats in a lab experiment, and the aisles as a maze designed by a psychologist. Most of the rats—customers, I mean—follow a routine pattern, strolling up and down the aisles, checking through my chute, and then escaping through the exit hatch. But not everyone is so dependable. My research has revealed three distinct types of abnormal customer: the amnesiac, the super shopper, and the dawdler."

This revised classification essay begins by painting a picture of an ordinary scenario: the grocery store. But when used as an opportunity to observe human nature, as this writer does, it turns from ordinary to fascinating.

Who is the amnesiac? Would I be classified as the dawdler by this cashier? The descriptive language and the analogy to rats in a maze add to the intrigue, and readers are left wanting more. For this reason, even though it's lengthy, this is an effective opening.

Invoke Emotion and the Element of Surprise

Roz Savage, " My Transoceanic Midlife Crisis "

"In March 2006, I found myself, at 38, divorced, no kids, no home, and alone in a tiny rowing boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I hadn’t eaten a hot meal in two months. I’d had no human contact for weeks because my satellite phone had stopped working. All four of my oars were broken, patched up with duct tape and splints. I had tendinitis in my shoulders and saltwater sores on my backside. I couldn’t have been happier...."

Here is an example of reversing expectations. The introductory paragraph is filled with doom and gloom. We feel sorry for the writer but are left wondering whether the article will be a classic sob story. It is in the second paragraph that we find out that it's quite the opposite.

Those first few words of the second paragraph, which we cannot help but skim, surprise us and thus draw us in. How can the narrator be happy after all that sorrow? This reversal compels us to find out what happened.

Most people have had streaks where nothing seems to go right. Yet, it is the possibility of a turn of fortunes that compels us to keep going. This writer appealed to our emotions and a sense of shared experience to craft an effective read.

Key Takeaways

  • An effective introductory paragraph grabs readers' attention and outlines the topic while adding intrigue to encourage further reading.
  • Dynamic strategies like posing questions or using anecdotes can engage readers from the start and set the stage for the essay's content.
  • Starting with the body and conclusion first and then revisiting the introduction can be a time-efficient approach if you're struggling with the opening lines.
  • 100 Persuasive Essay Topics
  • Understanding General-to-Specific Order in Composition
  • How to Structure an Essay
  • The Introductory Paragraph: Start Your Paper Off Right
  • 6 Steps to Writing the Perfect Personal Essay
  • How to Start a Book Report
  • How to Write a Great Essay for the TOEFL or TOEIC
  • How To Write an Essay
  • Writing a Descriptive Essay
  • How to Write a Great Process Essay
  • Write an Attention-Grabbing Opening Sentence for an Essay
  • 10 Steps to Writing a Successful Book Report
  • Process Analysis Essay: "How to Catch River Crabs"
  • What Is Expository Writing?
  • 3 Changes That Will Take Your Essay From Good To Great
  • How to Write a Great Book Report
  • Introduce the topic with some indication of its inherent interest or importance, and a clear definition of the boundaries of the subject area
  • Indicate the structure and/or methodology of the essay , often with the major sections of the essay or its structural principle clearly stated
  • State the thesis of the essay , preferably in a single, arguable statement with a clear main clause
  • Its boundaries
  • Why it is interesting
  • Structure and/or Methodology
  • The essay’s main sections (structure)
  • Why they come in that order (structural principle)
  • How the author plans to draw the necessary conclusions from the information available (methodology)
  • The Thesis Statement (usually a single sentence)
  • Its premise (the general claim about the information available)
  • Its conclusion (the consequences of the first claim)
  • How to Write a Definition Essay

A definition essay can be deceivingly difficult to write. This type of paper requires you to write a personal yet academic definition of one specific word. The definition must be thorough and lengthy. It is essential that you choose a word that will give you plenty to write about, and there are a few standard tactics you can use to elaborate on the term. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing a definition essay.

Part 1 of 3: Choosing the Right Word

1: choose an abstract word with a complex meaning. [1].

A simple word that refers to a concrete word will not give you much to write about, but a complex word that refers to an abstract concept provides more material to explore.

  • Typically, nouns that refer to a person, place, or thing are too simple for a definition essay. Nouns that refer to an idea work better, however, as do most adjectives.
  • For example, the word “house” is fairly simple and an essay written around it may be dull. By switching to something slightly more abstract like “home,” however, you can play around with the definition more. A “home” is a concept, and there are many elements involved in the creation of a “home.” In comparison, a “house” is merely a structure.

2: Make sure that the word is disputable.

Aside from being complex, the word should also refer to something that can mean different things to different people.

  • A definition essay is somewhat subjective by nature since it requires you to analyze and define a word from your own perspective. If the answer you come up with after analyzing a word is the same answer anyone else would come up with, your essay may appear to lack depth.

3: Choose a word you have some familiarity with.

Dictionary definitions can only tell you so much. Since you need to elaborate on the word you choose to define, you will need to have your own base of knowledge or experience with the concept you choose.

  • For instance, if you have never heard the term “pedantic,” your understanding of the word will be limited. You can introduce yourself to the word for your essay, but without previous understanding of the concept, you will not know if the definition you describe is truly fitting.

4: Read the dictionary definition.

While you will not be relying completely on the dictionary definition for your essay, familiarizing yourself with the official definition will allow you to compare your own understanding of the concept with the simplest, most academic explanation of it.

  • As an example, one definition of “friend” is “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.” [2] Your own ideas or beliefs about what a “friend” really is likely include much more information, but this basic definition can present you with a good starting point in forming your own.

5:  Research the word’s origins.

Look up your chosen word in the Oxford English Dictionary or in another etymology dictionary. [3]

  • These sources can tell you the history behind a word, which can provide further insight on a general definition as well as information about how a word came to mean what it means today.

Part 2 of 3: Potential Elements of an Effective Definition

1: write an analysis. [4].

Separate a word into various parts. Analyze and define each part in its own paragraph.

  • You can separate “return” into “re-” and “turn.” The word “friendship” can be separated into “friend” and “ship.”
  • In order to analyze each portion of a word, you will still need to use additional defining tactics like negation and classification.
  • Note that this tactic only works for words that contain multiple parts. The word “love,” for instance, cannot be broken down any further. If defining “platonic love,” though, you could define both “platonic” and “love” separately within your essay.

2:  Classify the term.

Specify what classes and parts of speech a word belongs to according to a standard dictionary definition.

  • While this information is very basic and dry, it can provide helpful context about the way that a given word is used.

3: Compare an unfamiliar term to something familiar.

An unfamiliar or uncommon concept can be explained using concepts that are more accessible to the average person.

  • Many people have never heard of the term “confrere,” for instance. One basic definition is “a fellow member of a profession, fraternity, etc.” As such, you could compare “confrere” with “colleague,” which is a similar yet more familiar concept. [5]

4:  Provide traditional details about the term.

Explain any physical characteristics or traditional thoughts used to describe your term of choice.

  • The term “home” is often visualized physically as a house or apartment. In more abstract terms, “home” is traditionally thought to be a warm, cozy, and safe environment. You can include all of these features in a definition essay on “home.”

5: Use examples to illustrate the meaning.

People often relate to stories and vivid images, so using a fitting story or image that relates to the term can be used in clarifying an abstract, formless concept.

  • In a definition essay about “kindness,” for example, you could write about an act of kindness you recently witnessed. Someone who mows the lawn of an elderly neighbor is a valid example, just as someone who gave you an encouraging word when you were feeling down might be.

6: Use negation to explain what the term does not mean.

If a term is often misused or misunderstood, mentioning what it is not is an effective way to bring the concept into focus.

  • A common example would be the term “courage.” The term is often associated with a lack of fear, but many will argue that “courage” is more accurately described as acting in spite of fear.

7: Provide background information.

This is when your research about the etymology of a word will come in handy. Explain where the term originated and how it came to mean what it currently means.

Part 3 of 3: Definition Essay Structure

1: introduce the standard definition..

You need to clearly state what your word is along with its traditional or dictionary definition in your introductory paragraph.

  • By opening with the dictionary definition of your term, you create context and a basic level of knowledge about the word. This will allow you to introduce and elaborate on your own definition.
  • This is especially significant when the traditional definition of your term varies from your own definition in notable ways.

2: Define the term in your own words in your thesis.

Your actual thesis statement should define the term in your own words.

  • Keep the definition in your thesis brief and basic. You will elaborate on it more in the body of your paper.
  • Avoid using passive phrases involving the word “is” when defining your term. The phrases “is where” and “is when” are especially clunky. [6]
  • Do not repeat part of the defined term in your definition.

3:  Separate different parts of the definition into separate paragraphs.

Each tactic or method used to define your term should be explored in a separate paragraph.

  • Note that you do not need to use all the possible methods of defining a term in your essay. You should use a variety of different methods in order to create a full, well-rounded picture of the term, but some tactics will work great with some terms but not with others.

4: Conclude with a summary of your main points.

Briefly summarize your main points around the start of your concluding paragraph.

  • This summary does not need to be elaborate. Usually, looking at the topic sentence of each body paragraph is a good way to form a simple list of your main points.
  • You can also draw the essay to a close by referring to phrases or images evoked in your introduction.

5: Mention how the definition has affected you, if desired.

If the term you define plays a part in your own life and experiences, your final concluding remarks are a good place to briefly mention the role it plays.

  • Relate your experience with the term to the definition you created for it in your thesis. Avoid sharing experiences that relate to the term but contradict everything you wrote in your essay.

Sources and Citations

  • http://www.roanestate.edu/owl/Definition.html
  • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/friend?s=t
  • http://www.etymonline.com/
  • http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/definition.html
  • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/confrere?s=t
  • http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/definition.htm
  • How to Write a Definition Essay. Provided by : WikiHow. Located at : http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Definition-Essay . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Table of Contents

Instructor Resources (Access Requires Login)

  • Overview of Instructor Resources

An Overview of the Writing Process

  • Introduction to the Writing Process
  • Introduction to Writing
  • Your Role as a Learner
  • What is an Essay?
  • Reading to Write
  • Defining the Writing Process
  • Videos: Prewriting Techniques
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organizing an Essay
  • Creating Paragraphs
  • Conclusions
  • Editing and Proofreading
  • Matters of Grammar, Mechanics, and Style
  • Peer Review Checklist
  • Comparative Chart of Writing Strategies

Using Sources

  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)
  • Citing Paraphrases and Summaries (APA)
  • APA Citation Style, 6th edition: General Style Guidelines

Definition Essay

  • Definitional Argument Essay
  • Critical Thinking
  • Video: Thesis Explained
  • Effective Thesis Statements
  • Student Sample: Definition Essay

Narrative Essay

  • Introduction to Narrative Essay
  • Student Sample: Narrative Essay
  • "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell
  • "Sixty-nine Cents" by Gary Shteyngart
  • Video: The Danger of a Single Story
  • How to Write an Annotation
  • How to Write a Summary
  • Writing for Success: Narration

Illustration/Example Essay

  • Introduction to Illustration/Example Essay
  • "She's Your Basic L.O.L. in N.A.D" by Perri Klass
  • "April & Paris" by David Sedaris
  • Writing for Success: Illustration/Example
  • Student Sample: Illustration/Example Essay

Compare/Contrast Essay

  • Introduction to Compare/Contrast Essay
  • "Disability" by Nancy Mairs
  • "Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" by Alex Wright
  • "A South African Storm" by Allison Howard
  • Writing for Success: Compare/Contrast
  • Student Sample: Compare/Contrast Essay

Cause-and-Effect Essay

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect Essay
  • "Cultural Baggage" by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • "Women in Science" by K.C. Cole
  • Writing for Success: Cause and Effect
  • Student Sample: Cause-and-Effect Essay

Argument Essay

  • Introduction to Argument Essay
  • Rogerian Argument
  • "The Case Against Torture," by Alisa Soloman
  • "The Case for Torture" by Michael Levin
  • How to Write a Summary by Paraphrasing Source Material
  • Writing for Success: Argument
  • Student Sample: Argument Essay
  • Grammar/Mechanics Mini-lessons
  • Mini-lesson: Subjects and Verbs, Irregular Verbs, Subject Verb Agreement
  • Mini-lesson: Sentence Types
  • Mini-lesson: Fragments I
  • Mini-lesson: Run-ons and Comma Splices I
  • Mini-lesson: Comma Usage
  • Mini-lesson: Parallelism
  • Mini-lesson: The Apostrophe
  • Mini-lesson: Capital Letters
  • Grammar Practice - Interactive Quizzes
  • De Copia - Demonstration of the Variety of Language
  • Style Exercise: Voice

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout will help you understand how paragraphs are formed, how to develop stronger paragraphs, and how to completely and clearly express your ideas.

What is a paragraph?

Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as “a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit” (Lunsford and Connors 116). Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout, we will refer to this as the “controlling idea,” because it controls what happens in the rest of the paragraph.

How do I decide what to put in a paragraph?

Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must first decide on an argument and a working thesis statement for your paper. What is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader? The information in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your thesis and the information in each paragraph. A working thesis functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process is an organic one—a natural progression from a seed to a full-blown paper where there are direct, familial relationships between all of the ideas in the paper.

The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with the germination of a seed of ideas; this “germination process” is better known as brainstorming . There are many techniques for brainstorming; whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped. Building paragraphs can be like building a skyscraper: there must be a well-planned foundation that supports what you are building. Any cracks, inconsistencies, or other corruptions of the foundation can cause your whole paper to crumble.

So, let’s suppose that you have done some brainstorming to develop your thesis. What else should you keep in mind as you begin to create paragraphs? Every paragraph in a paper should be :

  • Unified : All of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea (often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph).
  • Clearly related to the thesis : The sentences should all refer to the central idea, or thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119).
  • Coherent : The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development (Rosen and Behrens 119).
  • Well-developed : Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraph’s controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).

How do I organize a paragraph?

There are many different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Below are a few possibilities for organization, with links to brief examples:

  • Narration : Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish. ( See an example. )
  • Description : Provide specific details about what something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic. ( See an example. )
  • Process : Explain how something works, step by step. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third. ( See an example. )
  • Classification : Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic. ( See an example. )
  • Illustration : Give examples and explain how those examples support your point. (See an example in the 5-step process below.)

Illustration paragraph: a 5-step example

From the list above, let’s choose “illustration” as our rhetorical purpose. We’ll walk through a 5-step process for building a paragraph that illustrates a point in an argument. For each step there is an explanation and example. Our example paragraph will be about human misconceptions of piranhas.

Step 1. Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence

Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the paragraph’s development. Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea.

Controlling idea and topic sentence — Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans.

Step 2. Elaborate on the controlling idea

Paragraph development continues with an elaboration on the controlling idea, perhaps with an explanation, implication, or statement about significance. Our example offers a possible explanation for the pervasiveness of the myth.

Elaboration — This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media.

Step 3. Give an example (or multiple examples)

Paragraph development progresses with an example (or more) that illustrates the claims made in the previous sentences.

Example — For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman.

Step 4. Explain the example(s)

The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its relevance to the topic sentence. The explanation should demonstrate the value of the example as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph.

Continue the pattern of giving examples and explaining them until all points/examples that the writer deems necessary have been made and explained. NONE of your examples should be left unexplained. You might be able to explain the relationship between the example and the topic sentence in the same sentence which introduced the example. More often, however, you will need to explain that relationship in a separate sentence.

Explanation for example — Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear.

Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process (steps 3 and 4) can be repeated as needed. The idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely developed the main idea of the paragraph.

Step 5. Complete the paragraph’s idea or transition into the next paragraph

The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of the paragraph. At this point, you can remind your reader about the relevance of the information to the larger paper, or you can make a concluding point for this example. You might, however, simply transition to the next paragraph.

Sentences for completing a paragraph — While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.

Finished paragraph

Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans. This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media. For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman. Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear. While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.

Troubleshooting paragraphs

Problem: the paragraph has no topic sentence.

Imagine each paragraph as a sandwich. The real content of the sandwich—the meat or other filling—is in the middle. It includes all the evidence you need to make the point. But it gets kind of messy to eat a sandwich without any bread. Your readers don’t know what to do with all the evidence you’ve given them. So, the top slice of bread (the first sentence of the paragraph) explains the topic (or controlling idea) of the paragraph. And, the bottom slice (the last sentence of the paragraph) tells the reader how the paragraph relates to the broader argument. In the original and revised paragraphs below, notice how a topic sentence expressing the controlling idea tells the reader the point of all the evidence.

Original paragraph

Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Revised paragraph

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Once you have mastered the use of topic sentences, you may decide that the topic sentence for a particular paragraph really shouldn’t be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is fine—the topic sentence can actually go at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph; what’s important is that it is in there somewhere so that readers know what the main idea of the paragraph is and how it relates back to the thesis of your paper. Suppose that we wanted to start the piranha paragraph with a transition sentence—something that reminds the reader of what happened in the previous paragraph—rather than with the topic sentence. Let’s suppose that the previous paragraph was about all kinds of animals that people are afraid of, like sharks, snakes, and spiders. Our paragraph might look like this (the topic sentence is bold):

Like sharks, snakes, and spiders, piranhas are widely feared. Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless . Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Problem: the paragraph has more than one controlling idea

If a paragraph has more than one main idea, consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea, or split the paragraph into two or more paragraphs, each with only one main idea. Watch our short video on reverse outlining to learn a quick way to test whether your paragraphs are unified. In the following paragraph, the final two sentences branch off into a different topic; so, the revised paragraph eliminates them and concludes with a sentence that reminds the reader of the paragraph’s main idea.

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. A number of South American groups eat piranhas. They fry or grill the fish and then serve them with coconut milk or tucupi, a sauce made from fermented manioc juices.

Problem: transitions are needed within the paragraph

You are probably familiar with the idea that transitions may be needed between paragraphs or sections in a paper (see our handout on transitions ). Sometimes they are also helpful within the body of a single paragraph. Within a paragraph, transitions are often single words or short phrases that help to establish relationships between ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. This is especially likely to be true within paragraphs that discuss multiple examples. Let’s take a look at a version of our piranha paragraph that uses transitions to orient the reader:

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, except in two main situations, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ instinct is to flee, not attack. But there are two situations in which a piranha bite is likely. The first is when a frightened piranha is lifted out of the water—for example, if it has been caught in a fishing net. The second is when the water level in pools where piranhas are living falls too low. A large number of fish may be trapped in a single pool, and if they are hungry, they may attack anything that enters the water.

In this example, you can see how the phrases “the first” and “the second” help the reader follow the organization of the ideas in the paragraph.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Lunsford, Andrea. 2008. The St. Martin’s Handbook: Annotated Instructor’s Edition , 6th ed. New York: St. Martin’s.

Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a Definition Essay

Last Updated: January 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 453,084 times.

A definition essay requires you to write your own definition of a word. The definition must be thorough and well supported by research and evidence. You may have to write a definition essay for a class or try it as a writing challenge to help improve your English skills. Start by selecting and defining the word. Then, create a draft that presents a detailed definition using references and sources. Polish the essay when you are done so it flows well and does not contain any grammatical errors.

Selecting the Word

Step 1 Choose a concept or idea.

  • You can also pick a concept like “Success,” “Friendship,” or “Faith.”
  • Concepts like “Pain,” “Loss,” or “Death” are also good options.

Step 2 Avoid concrete objects or things.

  • You can try taking a concrete object and using a similar word to make it more open-ended. For example, the word “house” is concrete and obvious. But the word “home” is more open-ended and allows you to create your own definition of the word.

Step 3 Select a word you are familiar with.

  • For example, you may choose a word like “success” because you are familiar with the word and feel you may have a lot to say about what it means to be successful or to feel success in your life.

Step 4 Go for a word that can have a variety of meanings.

  • For example, you may choose a word like “pain” because you feel there are a variety of meanings for the word based on who you talk to and how they experience “pain” in their lives.

Defining the Word

Step 1 Look up the word in the dictionary.

  • For example, if you look up the word “justice” in the dictionary, you may get this definition: “noun, the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.”
  • You can then determine that “justice” is a noun and can be compared to other terms like “righteousness” and “moral rightness.”

Step 2 Research the origin of the word in encyclopedias.

  • For example, you may look up the word “justice” in an online encyclopedia that focuses on philosophy or law. You may then find information on Western theories of justice and how it became an important concept in Western history and the legal system.

Step 3 Search online for articles, websites, and videos that discuss the word.

  • Look on academic search engines like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and ProQuest for scholarly articles.
  • You can also look for educational videos that have been made about the word on YouTube and other video websites.

Step 4 Interview peers, family, and friends about the word.

  • “What comes to mind when you think of the word?”
  • “How do you feel about the word on a personal level?”
  • “How do you interact or deal with the word?”
  • “What does the word mean to you?”
  • Take notes or record the interviews so you can use them as sources in your essay.

Step 5 Create your own definition of the word.

  • For example, you may write: “Justice, a quality or trait where you act in a morally right way.” Or you may write: “Justice, a concept in the legal system where the fair or equitable thing is done, as in ‘justice has been served.’”
  • It's important to have tact and tread carefully here. It's important to preface your own definition of the word, making it clear that's a personal opinion. Make sure not to create the misconception that your own definition is the accepted or official one.
  • At the end of the day, your objective should be to write the actual definition, and not an opinion essay.

Creating an Essay Draft

Step 1 Use five sections for the essay.

  • Your thesis statement should appear in the introduction and conclusion section of your essay.

Step 2 Introduce the term and the standard definition.

  • For example, you may write, “According to the Oxford Dictionary, justice is a noun, and it means: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness.”

Step 3 Include a thesis statement with your own definition.

  • For example, you may have a thesis statement like, “According to my research and my personal experiences, justice is a quality or trait where you act in a morally correct way.”

Step 4 Discuss the history and origin of the word.

  • For example, you may write, “Justice comes from the Latin jus , which means right or law. It is a commonly used concept in politics, in the legal system, and in philosophy.”

Step 5 Analyze the dictionary definition of the word.

  • For example, you may discuss how justice works as a noun or an idea in politics, the legal system, and in philosophy. You may also discuss what the “quality of being just” means in our society.

Step 6 Compare and contrast the term with other terms.

  • For example, you may talk about how justice is similar and also not quite the same as words like “righteousness” and “equitableness.”
  • You can also discuss words that mean the opposite of the term you are defining. For example, you may contrast the word “justice” with the word “injustice” or “inequality.”

Step 7 Discuss your personal definition.

  • For example, you may write, “On a personal level, I view justice as an essential concept” or “Based on my own experiences, I think justice is blind and often does not serve those who need it the most.”
  • You can also include personal experiences of the word based on interviews you conducted with others.

Step 8 Support your points with evidence and references.

  • Make sure you follow your instructor’s preferred citation style, such as MLA , APA , or Chicago Style .

Step 9 Conclude by restating your main points.

  • Look at the first sentence in each section of the paragraph to help you gather your main points.
  • Include a last sentence that has a strong image or that describes a key phrase in your essay.

Polishing the Essay

Step 1 Read the essay out loud.

  • You should also check for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors in the essay.

Step 2 Show the essay to others for feedback.

  • Be open to constructive criticism from others and take their feedback to heart. It will only make your essay better.

Step 3 Revise the essay.

  • If there is a word count or a page count for the definition essay, make sure you meet it.
  • Include a reference page at the end of the essay and a cover page at the beginning of the essay, if required.

Expert Q&A

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

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Thanks for reading our article! If you'd like to learn more about writing essays, check out our in-depth interview with Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. .

  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/10-6-definition/
  • ↑ https://quillbot.com/courses/introduction-to-college-level-academic-writing/chapter/how-to-write-a-definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://examples.yourdictionary.com/definition-essay-examples-and-topic-ideas.html
  • ↑ https://owlcation.com/humanities/How-to-Write-a-Definition-Essay-from-Multiple-Sources
  • ↑ https://academichelp.net/academic-assignments/essay/write-definition-essay.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/definitions.html
  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/definition-essay/definition-essay-techniques/
  • ↑ https://quillbot.com/courses/rhetorical-methods-based-essay-writing/chapter/how-to-write-a-definition-essay/
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/reading-aloud/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html

About This Article

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

To write a definition essay, choose a word that describes a concept or idea. Look up the dictionary definition, the origin of the word, and any scholarly essays or articles that discuss the word in detail, then use this information to create your own definition. When you write your paper, introduce the term and the standard dictionary definition of the word, followed by a thesis stating your own definition. Use the body of the paper to include historical information and explain what the word means to you, then conclude by restating your thesis. For tips on picking your word, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Definition Essay

Barbara P

Definition Essay - Writing Guide, Examples and Tips

14 min read

Published on: Oct 9, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

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Many students struggle with writing definition essays due to a lack of clarity and precision in their explanations.

This obstructs them from effectively conveying the essence of the terms or concepts they are tasked with defining. Consequently, the essays may lack coherence, leaving readers confused and preventing them from grasping the intended meaning.

But don’t worry!

In this guide, we will delve into effective techniques and step-by-step approaches to help students craft an engaging definition essay.

Continue reading to learn the correct formation of a definition essay. 

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What is a Definition Essay?

Just as the name suggests, a definition essay defines and explains a term or a concept. Unlike a narrative essay, the purpose of writing this essay is only to inform the readers.

Writing this essay type can be deceivingly tricky. Some terms, concepts, and objects have concrete definitions when explained. In contrast others are solely based on the writer’s understanding and point of view.

A definition essay requires a writer to use different approaches when discussing a term. These approaches are the following:

  • Denotation - It is when you provide a literal or academic definition of the term.
  • Connotation - It is when the writer provides an implied meaning or definition of the term.
  • Enumeration - For this approach, a list is employed to define a term or a concept.
  • Analogy - It is a technique in which something is defined by implementing a comparison.
  • Negation - It is when you define a term by stating what it is not.

A single or combination of approaches can be used in the essay. 

Definition Essay Types

There are several types of definition essays that you may be asked to write, depending on the purpose and scope of the assignment. 

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common types of definition essays.

Descriptive Definition Essay 

This type of essay provides a detailed description of a term or concept, emphasizing its key features and characteristics. 

The goal of a descriptive definition essay is to help readers understand the term or concept in a more profound way.

Stipulative Definition Essay 

In a stipulative definition essay, the writer provides a unique definition of a term or concept. This type of essay is often used in academic settings to define a term in a particular field of study. 

The goal of a stipulative definition essay is to provide a precise and clear definition that is specific to the context of the essay.

Analytical Definition Essay 

This compare and contrast essay type involves analyzing a term or concept in-depth. Breaking it down into its component parts, and examining how they relate to each other. 

The goal of an analytical definition essay is to provide a more nuanced and detailed understanding of the term or concept being discussed.

Persuasive Definition Essay 

A persuasive definition essay is an argumentative essay that aims to persuade readers to accept a particular definition of a term or concept.

The writer presents their argument for the definition and uses evidence and examples to support their position.

Explanatory Definition Essay 

An explanatory definition essay is a type of expository essay . It aims to explain a complex term or concept in a way that is easy to understand for the reader. 

The writer breaks down the term or concept into simpler parts and provides examples and analogies to help readers understand it better.

Extended Definition Essay 

An extended definition essay goes beyond the definition of a word or concept and provides a more in-depth analysis and explanation. 

The goal of an extended definition essay is to provide a comprehensive understanding of a term, concept, or idea. This includes its history, origins, and cultural significance. 

How to Write a Definition Essay?

Writing a definition essay is simple if you know the correct procedure. This essay, like all the other formal pieces of documents, requires substantial planning and effective execution.

The following are the steps involved in writing a definition essay effectively:

Instead of choosing a term that has a concrete definition available, choose a word that is complicated . Complex expressions have abstract concepts that require a writer to explore deeper. Moreover, make sure that different people perceive the term selected differently. 

Once you have a word to draft your definition essay for, read the dictionary. These academic definitions are important as you can use them to compare your understanding with the official concept.

Drafting a definition essay is about stating the dictionary meaning and your explanation of the concept. So the writer needs to have some information about the term.

In addition to this, when exploring the term, make sure to check the term’s origin. The history of the word can make you discuss it in a better way.

Coming up with an exciting title for your essay is important. The essay topic will be the first thing that your readers will witness, so it should be catchy.

Creatively draft an essay topic that reflects meaning. In addition to this, the usage of the term in the title should be correctly done. The readers should get an idea of what the essay is about and what to expect from the document.

Now that you have a topic in hand, it is time to gather some relevant information. A definition essay is more than a mere explanation of the term. It represents the writer’s perception of the chosen term and the topic.

So having only personal opinions will not be enough to defend your point. Deeply research and gather information by consulting credible sources.

The gathered information needs to be organized to be understandable. The raw data needs to be arranged to give a structure to the content.

Here's a generic outline for a definition essay:

Are you searching for an in-depth guide on crafting a well-structured definition essay?Check out this definition essay outline blog!

6. Write the First Draft

Drafting each section correctly is a daunting task. Understanding what or what not to include in these sections requires a writer to choose wisely.

The start of your essay matters a lot. If it is on point and attractive, the readers will want to read the text. As the first part of the essay is the introduction , it is considered the first impression of your essay.

To write your definition essay introduction effectively, include the following information:

  • Start your essay with a catchy hook statement that is related to the topic and the term chosen.
  • State the generally known definition of the term. If the word chosen has multiple interpretations, select the most common one.
  • Provide background information precisely. Determine the origin of the term and other relevant information.
  • Shed light on the other unconventional concepts and definitions related to the term.
  • Decide on the side or stance you want to pick in your essay and develop a thesis statement .

After briefly introducing the topic, fully explain the concept in the body section . Provide all the details and evidence that will support the thesis statement. To draft this section professionally, add the following information:

  • A detailed explanation of the history of the term.
  • Analysis of the dictionary meaning and usage of the term.
  • A comparison and reflection of personal understanding and the researched data on the concept.

Once all the details are shared, give closure to your discussion. The last paragraph of the definition essay is the conclusion . The writer provides insight into the topic as a conclusion.

The concluding paragraphs include the following material:

  • Summary of the important points.
  • Restated thesis statement.
  • A final verdict on the topic.

7. Proofread and Edit

Although the writing process ends with the concluding paragraph, there is an additional step. It is important to proofread the essay once you are done writing. Proofread and revise your document a couple of times to make sure everything is perfect.

Before submitting your assignment, make edits, and fix all mistakes and errors.

If you want to learn more about how to write a definition essay, here is a video guide for you!

Definition Essay Structure 

The structure of a definition essay is similar to that of any other academic essay. It should consist of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

However, the focus of a definition essay is on defining and explaining a particular term or concept. 

In this section, we will discuss the structure of a definition essay in detail.

Introduction 

Get the idea of writing an introduction for a definition essay with this example:

Body Paragraphs

Here is an example of how to craft your definition essay body paragraph:

Types of the Term/Concept 

If applicable, the writer may want to include a section that discusses the different types or categories of the term or concept being defined. 

This section should explain the similarities and differences between the types, using examples and anecdotes to illustrate the points.

Examples of the Term/Concept in Action 

The writer should also include real-life examples of the term or concept being defined in action. 

This will help the reader better understand the term or concept in context and how it is used in everyday life.

Conclusion 

This example will help you writing a conclusion fo you essay:

Definition Essay Examples

It is important to go through some examples and samples before writing an essay. This is to understand the writing process and structure of the assigned task well.

Following are some examples of definition essays to give our students a better idea of the concept. 

Understanding the Definition Essay

Definition Essay Example

Definition Essay About Friendship

Definition Essay About Love

Family Definition Essay

Success Definition Essay

Beauty Definition Essay

Definition Essay Topics

Selecting the right topic is challenging for other essay types. However, picking a suitable theme for a definition essay is equally tricky yet important. Pick an interesting subject to ensure maximum readership.

If you are facing writer’s block, here is a list of some great definition essay topics for your help. Choose from the list below and draft a compelling essay.

  • Authenticity
  • Sustainability
  • Mindfulness

Here are some more extended definition essay topics:

  • Social media addiction
  • Ethical implications of gene editing
  • Personalized learning in the digital age
  • Ecosystem services
  • Cultural assimilation versus cultural preservation
  • Sustainable fashion
  • Gender equality in the workplace
  • Financial literacy and its impact on personal finance
  • Ethical considerations in artificial intelligence
  • Welfare state and social safety nets

Need more topics? Check out this definition essay topics blog!

Definition Essay Writing Tips

Knowing the correct writing procedure is not enough if you are not aware of the essay’s small technicalities. To help students write a definition essay effortlessly, expert writers of CollegeEssay.org have gathered some simple tips.

These easy tips will make your assignment writing phase easy.

  • Choose an exciting yet informative topic for your essay.
  • When selecting the word, concept, or term for your essay, make sure you have the knowledge.
  • When consulting a dictionary for the definition, provide proper referencing as there are many choices available.
  • To make the essay informative and credible, always provide the origin and history of the term.
  • Highlight different meanings and interpretations of the term.
  • Discuss the transitions and evolution in the meaning of the term in any.
  • Provide your perspective and point of view on the chosen term.

Following these tips will guarantee you better grades in your academics.

By following the step-by-step approach explained in this guide, you will acquire the skills to craft an outstanding essay. 

Struggling with the thought, " write my college essay for m e"? Look no further.

Our dedicated definition essay writing service is here to craft the perfect essay that meets your academic needs.

For an extra edge, explore our AI essay writer , a tool designed to refine your essays to perfection. 

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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first paragraph definition essay

How to Write a Definition Essay: A Step-by-Step Manual for Writing an A+ Paper

definition essay

Samuel Gorbold

According to a definition essay meaning, it involves a thoughtful exploration and clarification of the significance of a chosen concept. To begin, carefully select a term that is broad enough to allow for in-depth analysis but specific enough to avoid ambiguity. Start the essay with a concise and standard definition drawn from reputable sources like dictionaries to provide a foundational understanding. However, most of the essay should go beyond this basic definition. Delve into the complexities of the concept, breaking it down into different components, categories, or aspects. Provide examples, anecdotes, and scenarios that illustrate the notion in various contexts, allowing readers to grasp the nuances and depth of its meaning.

Wondering how to add a definition in an essay? Structurally, a definition essay typically follows a clear and organized format. Begin with an introduction that introduces the term and its importance, followed by a thesis statement that outlines your interpretation. Each subsequent paragraph should focus on a different vista of the concept, exploring its history, evolution, and various renditions. Use transitions to ensure a smooth flow between passages. In conclusion, summarize the key points, restate your hypothesis, and leave the audience with a thought-provoking statement or a call to action. Remember that the goal is not just to define the notion but to provide a comprehensive and insightful exploration that enhances the professor's competence. Our essay writers online can help you foster a richer appreciation for the complexities inherent in language and society.

first paragraph definition essay

What Is a Definition Essay

A definition essay meaning suggests it is a type of academic writing that aims to provide a comprehensive explanation of a particular construct or concept. Unlike other forms of essays that may focus on argumentation or persuasion, a definition essay primarily seeks to elucidate the meaning of the chosen motif. What is the purpose of a definition essay? To delve beyond the surface-level comprehension of the word and offer a nuanced explanation combining personal insights and a broader, commonly accepted definition. This genre of essay often requires careful analysis, research, and consideration of various perspectives to present a well-rounded and thorough exploration of the selected consideration.

During the definition essay writing process, it is crucial for the writer to not only offer a concise dictionary-like definition but also to provide context, examples, and relevant anecdotes that help illuminate the leitmotif's multifaceted nature. This allows the reader to gain a deeper familiarization of the subject matter and encourages critical thinking. The essay may cover abstract concepts like love, justice, or freedom, or it can explore concrete assumptions such as technology, democracy, or sustainability. Through carefully selecting the apprehension and thoughtful exploration of its meaning, a well-executed definition essay engages readers.

how to write a definition essay

Definition Essay Outline

To learn how to write a definition essay, you have to understand that a well-structured definition essay typically follows a standard creative writing format to ensure clarity and coherence in presenting the chosen concept. The introduction serves as the starting point, where the writer provides a standard definition of the aspect to establish a baseline realization for the audience. However, the introduction should go beyond a mere dictionary definition; it should include an argument that outlines the writer's interpretation and sets the stage for the following in-depth exploration. This statement guides the tutor on what to expect in the essay and highlights the specific dimensions the writer will delve into.

After realizing how to start a definition essay, proceed to the main body, where the idea is dissected and examined in detail. Each subsection within the body should focus on a distinct aspect or facet. It's crucial to provide clear and comprehensive explanations, incorporating examples, anecdotes, and illustrations to enhance the reader's erudition. Additionally, consider organizing the body paragraphs logically, perhaps moving from the more general vistas to its more specific or nuanced dimensions. Transitions between sections are essential for maintaining a smooth flow and coherence. 

Finally, the conclusion should restate the key sentence, summarize the key points discussed in the body, and offer a thoughtful reflection or a broader implication of the facet. The conclusion should leave a lasting impression and reinforce the significance of the conception in the context explored throughout the essay. Browse these essays for sale to find great examples of definition essays performed by academic wordsmiths. 

Introduction

  • Hook: Engage the classroom with an interesting fact, quote, or anecdote related to the theme.
  • Background: Provide a standard and basic definition from a reliable source.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state your interpretation and the aspects you will explore in the essay.

Body Paragraphs

  • Aspect 1: Start with the broader or general outlook.
  • Definition: Provide a detailed explanation of the first aspect.
  • Examples: Offer relevant examples, anecdotes, or scenarios to illustrate the concept.
  • Aspect 2: Move on to a specific dimension.
  • Definition: Delve into the details of the second aspect.
  • Examples: Support your explanation with concrete examples to enhance clarity.
  • Continue with additional angles as needed, ensuring a logical flow between passages.

Counterarguments (Optional)

  • Address possible alternative interpretations or misconceptions.
  • Refute counterarguments and reinforce the validity of your interpretation.
  • Summarize: Recap the key points discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate Thesis: Reinforce your interpretation of the term.
  • Concluding Thoughts: Provide a thoughtful reflection, broader implication, or a call to action.

Definition Essay Introduction

In the introductory section of a definition essay, the reader is presented with the topic in a manner that is not only highly informative but also compelling enough to engage them throughout the entire essay. To achieve this, the following elements are crucial:

  • Hook: Utilize a captivating phrase or question to seize the reader's attention.
  • Background Information: Briefly elucidate the topic and underscore its significance in being defined.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly articulate the term and provide your own interpretation of it.

Definition Essay Thesis

Unlike traditional theses, a definition essay thesis statement doesn't require the writer to argue a point. For those aiming to write an effective definition essay, the key lies in incorporating a central assertion into the concluding sentence of the introduction. Whether you're immersed in the study of astrophysics at a top-tier college or any other discipline, your statement should succinctly define the concept in your own words.

Definition Essay Body Paragraphs

As we’ve learned how to start an essay with a definition, let’s move on to the main body. Within the body of your essay, dismantle the conception into its constituent elements, assess it from various perspectives, and offer a pertinent justification. Depending on the specific writing requirements of your assignment, the number of sections may exceed three. You can introduce additional sections or rearrange the order based on the complexity of the thought. Consider employing the following structure if you want to know how to write a definition paragraph:

  • Historical Definition: Detail the origin and evolution of the main idea.
  • Dictionary Definition: Present the official definition and draw comparisons with your own interpretation.
  • Personal Definition: Articulate your awareness of the hypothesis, supported by examples and anecdotes.
  • Expert Definition: Reference a scholar's definition and elucidate any disparities from your own rendition.
  • Cultural Definition: Examine how the notion is employed in popular culture and its reflection of societal values.

Definition Essay Conclusion

In the concluding paragraph, the final portion of the essay, you can study how to define a word in an essay. It is imperative to recapitulate the main points. Structure a fitting ending by following these steps:

  • Restate Thesis: Summarize your definition and underscore its significance.
  • Implications: Clarify how comprehending the focal point can influence our thoughts and actions.
  • Call to Action: Motivate readers to employ the term accurately and advocate for precise definitions within their communities.

Definition Essay Types

Have you encountered a captivating abstraction with a rich history but didn’t know how to put definition in essay? Before committing to it, carefully consider the characteristics of definition essay and the potential approaches you can take. 

  • Break down your topic into distinct components.
  • Define each component separately to provide a detailed insight.

Classification

  • Identify and explore the different categories or groups that your term falls under.
  • Provide detailed explanations for each category, highlighting the nuances of the term.
  • Showcase the uniqueness of your term by comparing it to more common or typical things.
  • Highlight how your term stands out, whether through similarities or differences from the norm.
  • Identify and elaborate on the specific traits and qualities that best represent the central idea of your essay.
  • Support your definition with concrete examples illustrating the identified traits.
  • Clearly state what your term is not, providing a refined and narrowed definition.
  • Use negation to eliminate ambiguity and focus the reader's perception.

Origins and Causes

  • Explore the historical roots of your term, including its first appearance and any relevant historical details.
  • Provide insight into the origin and evolution of the concept over time.

Results, Effects, and Uses

  • Examine the consequences and outcomes associated with your term.
  • Detail the various ways in which the term is utilized and its significance in different contexts.

Tips for Writing a Definition Essay

Few students actually know how to write a definition in an essay, which can pose a challenge as it requires developing a thorough depiction of a singular term that combines both scholarly and personal elements. Selecting a term that allows for a comprehensive exploration of the essay is crucial, and adhering to traditional methods is instrumental in ensuring a nuanced grasp. Here are some tips to help you perform an effective and engaging definition essay:

definition essay tips

  • Select a term that has a clear and widely accepted definition. Avoid writing overly broad or subjective terms that may lead to ambiguity.
  • Conduct thorough research to understand the various meanings and interpretations of the term. Consult reputable sources, dictionaries, and scholarly articles to gather comprehensive information.
  • Begin your essay by presenting the standard or dictionary definition of the term. This serves as a foundation for your own elucidation.
  • Write your personal exegis of the term. Share your perspective and insights, going beyond the standard definition.
  • Experiment with different approaches such as analysis, classification, comparison, or negation to add depth to your essay. This allows you to explore various facets of the term.
  • To answer the question how do you put a definition in an essay, illustrate your definition with relevant examples, anecdotes, or scenarios. Concrete examples help readers better grasp the meaning of the term.
  • Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each subsection should focus on a specific element of the term, contributing to a comprehensive interpretation.
  • Acknowledge and address different perspectives on the term. Discuss how the meaning may vary based on context, culture, or private experiences.
  • Use negation to define the term by explaining what it is not. This technique helps to eliminate confusion and refine the definition.
  • Strive for clarity and precision in your language. Avoid unnecessary complexity and ensure that each word contributes to the development of the term.
  • Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Ensure that your definition is well-supported and that your writing is free from grammatical errors.
  • Write for your target audience. Tailor your explanations to suit the level of erudition of your readers, providing enough detail without overwhelming them.
  • Summarize your main points in the conclusion and restate your argumentation. Consider the broader implications or significance of writing about the term.
  • Have someone else read your essay to gain feedback. This can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement.

Need extra tips regarding how to write an academic essay ? Our expensive guide offers everything you need and more to write A-grade essays quickly. 

Definition Essay Topic Ideas

Check out 30 definition essay examples of topics that you can get inspired by and brainstorm your own brilliant ideas to write about in your essay. 

  • Defining true achievement beyond material wealth.
  • Exploring the many faces of bravery.
  • Unraveling the layers of genuine connection.
  • A multifaceted journey to contentment.
  • Navigating the moral compass in a complex world.
  • The power to bounce back from life's challenges.
  • Understanding and sharing the feelings of others.
  • The ever-evolving landscape of creative progress.
  • Striving for fairness in a diverse society.
  • Balancing personal liberties with social responsibility.
  • The interplay of self-perception and social constructs.
  • Integrating knowledge and experience for sound judgment.
  • The pursuit of fairness and equity in legal systems.
  • Nurturing connections that transcend time and distance.
  • Beyond the classroom – lifelong learning and growth.
  • Building bonds in a hyperconnected world.
  • Fostering hope in the face of adversity.
  • Inspiring and guiding others toward a common goal.
  • Unveiling the aesthetic essence beyond physical appearance.
  • Celebrating differences for a richer human experience.
  • Acts of selflessness in a self-centric world.
  • Balancing human needs with environmental responsibility.
  • Unleashing imagination for innovative problem-solving.
  • A holistic approach to physical and mental well-being.
  • Standing in the intersection of heritage and modernity.
  • Examining the impact of innovation on human life.
  • Transformative growth in the face of challenges.
  • The evolution of thought and behavior across the lifespan.
  • Discovering meaning and direction in life.
  • The art of expressing ideas and building connections.

Two Definition Essay Examples

To grasp the essence of what writing definition essay is about, it’s always a great idea to have a vivid example in front of you. Preferably done by someone who knows their writing craft. If you choose to use this definition essay example as a reference, feel free to analyze its structure and format. Alternatively, you can opt to purchase an essay affordably and of the highest quality on our platform!

first paragraph definition essay

How to Write a Good Thesis Statement for Definition Essay?

How to write a definition essay, how to format a definition in an essay, how to write a definition paragraph.

Samuel Gorbold , a seasoned professor with over 30 years of experience, guides students across disciplines such as English, psychology, political science, and many more. Together with EssayHub, he is dedicated to enhancing student understanding and success through comprehensive academic support.

first paragraph definition essay

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3.2: How to Write a Definition Essay

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A definition essay can be deceivingly difficult to write. This type of paper requires you to write a personal yet academic definition of one specific word. The definition must be thorough and lengthy. It is essential that you choose a word that will give you plenty to write about, and there are a few standard tactics you can use to elaborate on the term. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when writing a definition essay.

Part 1 of 3: Choosing the Right Word

1: choose an abstract word with a complex meaning. [1].

A simple word that refers to a concrete word will not give you much to write about, but a complex word that refers to an abstract concept provides more material to explore.

  • Typically, nouns that refer to a person, place, or thing are too simple for a definition essay. Nouns that refer to an idea work better, however, as do most adjectives.
  • For example, the word “house” is fairly simple and an essay written around it may be dull. By switching to something slightly more abstract like “home,” however, you can play around with the definition more. A “home” is a concept, and there are many elements involved in the creation of a “home.” In comparison, a “house” is merely a structure.

2: Make sure that the word is disputable.

Aside from being complex, the word should also refer to something that can mean different things to different people.

  • A definition essay is somewhat subjective by nature since it requires you to analyze and define a word from your own perspective. If the answer you come up with after analyzing a word is the same answer anyone else would come up with, your essay may appear to lack depth.

3: Choose a word you have some familiarity with.

Dictionary definitions can only tell you so much. Since you need to elaborate on the word you choose to define, you will need to have your own base of knowledge or experience with the concept you choose.

  • For instance, if you have never heard the term “pedantic,” your understanding of the word will be limited. You can introduce yourself to the word for your essay, but without previous understanding of the concept, you will not know if the definition you describe is truly fitting.

4: Read the dictionary definition.

While you will not be relying completely on the dictionary definition for your essay, familiarizing yourself with the official definition will allow you to compare your own understanding of the concept with the simplest, most academic explanation of it.

  • As an example, one definition of “friend” is “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.” [2] Your own ideas or beliefs about what a “friend” really is likely include much more information, but this basic definition can present you with a good starting point in forming your own.

5: Research the word’s origins.

Look up your chosen word in the Oxford English Dictionary or in another etymology dictionary. [3]

  • These sources can tell you the history behind a word, which can provide further insight on a general definition as well as information about how a word came to mean what it means today.

Part 2 of 3: Potential Elements of an Effective Definition

1: write an analysis. [4].

Separate a word into various parts. Analyze and define each part in its own paragraph.

  • You can separate “return” into “re-” and “turn.” The word “friendship” can be separated into “friend” and “ship.”
  • In order to analyze each portion of a word, you will still need to use additional defining tactics like negation and classification.
  • Note that this tactic only works for words that contain multiple parts. The word “love,” for instance, cannot be broken down any further. If defining “platonic love,” though, you could define both “platonic” and “love” separately within your essay.

2: Classify the term.

Specify what classes and parts of speech a word belongs to according to a standard dictionary definition.

  • While this information is very basic and dry, it can provide helpful context about the way that a given word is used.

3: Compare an unfamiliar term to something familiar.

An unfamiliar or uncommon concept can be explained using concepts that are more accessible to the average person.

  • Many people have never heard of the term “confrere,” for instance. One basic definition is “a fellow member of a profession, fraternity, etc.” As such, you could compare “confrere” with “colleague,” which is a similar yet more familiar concept. [5]

4: Provide traditional details about the term.

Explain any physical characteristics or traditional thoughts used to describe your term of choice.

  • The term “home” is often visualized physically as a house or apartment. In more abstract terms, “home” is traditionally thought to be a warm, cozy, and safe environment. You can include all of these features in a definition essay on “home.”

5: Use examples to illustrate the meaning.

People often relate to stories and vivid images, so using a fitting story or image that relates to the term can be used in clarifying an abstract, formless concept.

  • In a definition essay about “kindness,” for example, you could write about an act of kindness you recently witnessed. Someone who mows the lawn of an elderly neighbor is a valid example, just as someone who gave you an encouraging word when you were feeling down might be.

6: Use negation to explain what the term does not mean.

If a term is often misused or misunderstood, mentioning what it is not is an effective way to bring the concept into focus.

  • A common example would be the term “courage.” The term is often associated with a lack of fear, but many will argue that “courage” is more accurately described as acting in spite of fear.

7: Provide background information.

This is when your research about the etymology of a word will come in handy. Explain where the term originated and how it came to mean what it currently means.

Part 3 of 3: Definition Essay Structure

1: introduce the standard definition..

You need to clearly state what your word is along with its traditional or dictionary definition in your introductory paragraph.

  • By opening with the dictionary definition of your term, you create context and a basic level of knowledge about the word. This will allow you to introduce and elaborate on your own definition.
  • This is especially significant when the traditional definition of your term varies from your own definition in notable ways.

2: Define the term in your own words in your thesis.

Your actual thesis statement should define the term in your own words.

  • Keep the definition in your thesis brief and basic. You will elaborate on it more in the body of your paper.
  • Avoid using passive phrases involving the word “is” when defining your term. The phrases “is where” and “is when” are especially clunky. [6]
  • Do not repeat part of the defined term in your definition.

3: Separate different parts of the definition into separate paragraphs.

Each tactic or method used to define your term should be explored in a separate paragraph.

  • Note that you do not need to use all the possible methods of defining a term in your essay. You should use a variety of different methods in order to create a full, well-rounded picture of the term, but some tactics will work great with some terms but not with others.

4: Conclude with a summary of your main points.

Briefly summarize your main points around the start of your concluding paragraph.

  • This summary does not need to be elaborate. Usually, looking at the topic sentence of each body paragraph is a good way to form a simple list of your main points.
  • You can also draw the essay to a close by referring to phrases or images evoked in your introduction.

5: Mention how the definition has affected you, if desired.

If the term you define plays a part in your own life and experiences, your final concluding remarks are a good place to briefly mention the role it plays.

  • Relate your experience with the term to the definition you created for it in your thesis. Avoid sharing experiences that relate to the term but contradict everything you wrote in your essay.

Sources and Citations

  • www.roanestate.edu/owl/Definition.html
  • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/friend?s=t
  • http://www.etymonline.com/
  • http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/definition.html
  • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/confrere?s=t
  • http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/definition.htm

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Writing a Definition Essay

You've selected a term or two, gathered denotations and connotations and other details, and created a working thesis statement. You're ready to draft your definition essay. The following activities will help you build a strong beginning, develop middle paragraphs, and create an ending that effectively wraps up your definition.

Writing the Beginning Paragraph

The first sentence or two of your definition essay needs to grab your reader's interest. You can experiment with a number of different strategies to write an effective lead.

Write a lead sentence.

Experiment with leads for your essay using each strategy below. Read the examples for ideas. Then choose your favorite lead to start your essay. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

“I was such a nerd, a complete geek, but then I was lucky enough to have a fancy career, where I can be like ‘See, I'm not a nerd. Look, I'm in Vogue .’ ” —Brooke Shields

So, just how did the nerds come to rule the universe?

Fifty years ago, the only people who sat in front of computers were nerds. Now, all kinds of people carry computers in their pockets and read them in their palms and hold them in front of their faces and smile.

One way to beat a bully is to turn an insult into a badge of honor.

Write your beginning paragraph.

Start with your lead, and then provide background information and develop a paragraph leading to your thesis statement.

Writing the Middle Paragraphs

Develop middle paragraphs that fully explore the meaning of your term(s). Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that names the main point. Thoroughly support each topic sentence using denotations, connotations, etymology, synonyms, antonyms, and other details. Make sure to select words that show your enthusiasm for the topic and connect to your reader.

Write your middle paragraphs.

Develop a paragraph of support for each main point about your thesis statement.

Teacher Tip

Allow students to develop these paragraphs first if they wish. Sometimes, students prefer to work from the details up to the thesis statement rather than the reverse direction.

Writing the Ending Paragraph

Your ending paragraph draws your definition essay to an effective close. You can develop this paragraph using a number of different ending strategies.

Try ending strategies.

Write a sentence for each ending strategy. Read the examples for ideas. Then consider using some or all of these sentences in your ending paragraph. Make a copy of this Google doc or download a Word template .

Geeks began as unskilled carnival workers and ended up as the richest people in the world.

Heroes come in all forms, from the Hulk with his erupting rage and giant green fists to Doctor Who with a police call box and a sonic screwdriver.

Felicia Day once noted, "The substance of what it means to be a geek is essentially someone who's brave enough to love something against judgment. The heart of being a geek is a little bit of rejection."

We live at a time when sports fans proudly call themselves "baseball nerds" and geek out over the World Cup and organize fantasy football leagues.

Write your ending paragraph.

Use some or all of the strategies you tried above as you build an ending paragraph for your definition essay.

Reading a Definition Essay

Read a student sample..

As you read this draft, notice how the writer puts the parts together.

Listen to "Get Your Nerd On"

Sample Definition Essay

Get your nerd on.

Beginning Paragraph In the days of traveling circuses, the lion tamer, trapeze artist, and tightrope walker were royalty. The bearded lady and wolf boy themselves had a certain cachet. Etymology But lowest of the low was the wild man whose only skill was biting the heads off chickens. That was the geek. Savage. Lowbrow. Grotesque. Thesis Statement In the last fifty years, the terms geek and nerd went from insults for social rejects to badges of honor for some of the most successful people in the world. How?

Middle Paragraphs While geek began its career as a name for an outcast sideshow carney, nerd got its start in Dr. Seuss's 1950 book If I Ran a Zoo :

And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo

And bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,

A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too.

The nerd in the zoo was just like the geek in the carnival—an oddity that people would pay money to gawk at. Quotation In 1951, Newsweek gave the first definition of nerd for people: "In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd." This sense of being a social outcast persists in the modern definition of each term. Denotation Merriam-Webster defines a nerd as "an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits," and defines a geek as "a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked." The nerd is a socially awkward bookworm. The geek is a know-it-all.

Topic Sentence These negative definitions predominated in the middle of the last century. In 1965, Milton-Bradley released the Mystery Date game, in which girls opened a little plastic door hoping for a handsome, athletic suitor rather than then bookish, socially awkward "dud." In 1975, National Lampoon published a poster that asked "Are You a Nerd?" and showed a gangly young man with black plastic glasses taped in the middle, a white button-down shirt with black tie and pocket protector, Farah Slacks that did not cover his white socks, and a pair of wingtips. The text below began, "Let's hope not. . . ." In 1984, the film Revenge of the Nerds presented the hilarious concept that a group of socially inept bookworms could somehow win out over the jock fraternity Alpha Beta and its cheerleader sorority, Pi Delta Pi.

Somehow, though, that's exactly what happened. Nerds and geeks became prominent in the computer revolution of the 1970s, but they didn't become socially acceptable until the Internet revolution of the 1990s, and didn't become masters of the universe until the social-media revolution of the 2000s. Fifty years ago, only losers spent any time sitting in front of computers. Now, everyone carries a pocket computer and checks it every few minutes and lifts it to smile and share and be popular. Bill Gates and his generation of nerds began by building computers in their garages and ended by becoming the richest people in the world. Even Hollywood has been taken over by nerds and geeks, with comic books and fantasy novels inspiring the biggest blockbusters. We've all lived through the Revenge of the Nerds , but this time it wasn't for laughs.

Connotation So, now that the outcasts have risen to the top of the heap, we should think a little bit about the shades of difference between the words nerd and geek. Merriam-Webster offers them as synonyms for each other, but each has a slightly different focus. A nerd is "slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits," which connotes a serious, laborious, scholarly interest. A geek is "an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity," which connotes a joyful, active, techie interest. Nerds are obsessed introverts. Geeks are obsessed extroverts.

Examples Now that both terms have shucked many of their negative connotations, they are used by people about all kinds of non-academic, non-techie subjects. We live at a time when sports fans proudly call themselves "baseball nerds" and geek out over the World Cup and organize fantasy football leagues. In addition to wine connoisseurs, we have beer nerds; in addition to gourmands , we have food geeks. We have election nerds and gardening geeks. Anyone with a serious, scholarly fascination can proudly wear the nerd badge, and anyone with an exuberant, wild-man interest can fly the geek banner.  

Ending Paragraph These onetime insults have undergone re-appropriation, a process by which a marginalized group takes on a slur and turns it into a source of pride. Though nerd and geek have lost most of their negative connotations, a sense of social isolation still exists within them. The actress Felicia Day reflected, "The substance of what it means to be a geek is essentially someone who's brave enough to love something against judgment. The heart of being a geek is a little bit of rejection." Though the bookish nerds have progressed from being the "duds" of Mystery Date to the CEOs of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, they still sometimes feel that their intense interests leave them just outside of the circle of "popular kids."

Teaching Tip

Show students how strong word choice creates interest: cachet, wild man, savage, lowbrow, grotesque, carney —and those appear just in the first paragraph. By selecting evocative nouns, precise verbs, and colorful modifiers, students can engage readers and show their investment in the topic.

© 2024 Thoughtful Learning. Copying is permitted.

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first paragraph definition essay

What Is a Capstone Project vs. Thesis

first paragraph definition essay

As students near the end of their academic journey, they encounter a crucial project called the capstone – a culmination of all they've learned. But what exactly is a capstone project? 

This article aims to demystify capstone projects, explaining what they are, why they matter, and what you can expect when you embark on this final academic endeavor.

Capstone Project Meaning

A capstone project is a comprehensive, culminating academic endeavor undertaken by students typically in their final year of study. 

It synthesizes their learning experiences, requiring students to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies gained throughout their academic journey. A capstone project aims to address a real-world problem or explore a topic of interest in depth. 

As interdisciplinary papers, capstone projects encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. They allow students to showcase their mastery of their field of study and demonstrate their readiness for future academic or professional pursuits.

Now that we’ve defined what is a capstone project, let’s discuss its importance in the academic landscape. In case you have short-form compositions to handle, simply say, ‘ do my essay for me ,’ and our writers will take care of your workload.

Why Is a Capstone Project Important

A capstone project is crucial because it allows students to combine everything they've learned in school and apply it to real-life situations or big problems. 

It's like the ultimate test of what they know and can do. By working on these projects, students get hands-on experience, learn to think critically and figure out how to solve tough problems. 

Plus, it's a chance to show off their skills and prove they're ready for whatever comes next, whether that's starting a career or going on to more schooling.

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What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Here are three key purposes of a capstone project:

What Is the Purpose of a Capstone Project

Integration of Knowledge and Skills

Capstones often require students to draw upon the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout their academic program. The importance of capstone project lies in helping students synthesize what they have learned and apply it to a real-world problem or project. 

This integration helps students demonstrate their proficiency and readiness for graduation or entry into their chosen profession.

Culmination of Learning

Capstone projects culminate a student's academic journey, allowing them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

tackling a significant project or problem, students demonstrate their understanding of concepts and their ability to translate them into practical solutions, reinforcing their learning journey.

Professional Development

Capstone projects allow students to develop skills relevant to their future careers. These projects can also be tangible examples of their capabilities to potential employers or graduate programs.

Whether it's conducting research, presenting findings, or collaborating with peers, students gain valuable experience that enhances their professional readiness. 

Types of Capstone Projects

Capstones vary widely depending on the academic discipline, institution, and specific program requirements. Here are some common types:

What Is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Capstone Project

Here's a breakdown of the key differences between a thesis and a capstone project:

How to Write a Capstone Project

Let's dive into the specifics with actionable and meaningful steps for writing a capstone project:

1. Select a Pertinent Topic

Identify a topic that aligns with your academic interests, program requirements, and real-world relevance. Consider issues or challenges within your field that merit further exploration or solution. 

Conduct thorough research to ensure the topic is both feasible and significant. Here are some brilliant capstone ideas for your inspiration.

2. Define Clear Objectives

Clearly articulate the objectives of your capstone project. What specific outcomes do you aim to achieve? 

Whether it's solving a problem, answering a research question, or developing a product, ensure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

3. Conduct Comprehensive Research

Dive deep into existing literature, theories, and empirical evidence related to your chosen topic. Identify gaps, controversies, or areas for further investigation. 

Synthesize relevant findings and insights to inform the development of your project and provide a solid foundation for your analysis or implementation.

4. Develop a Structured Plan

What is a capstone project in college without a rigid structure? Outline a comprehensive plan for your capstone project, including key milestones, tasks, and deadlines. 

Break down the project into manageable phases, such as literature review, data collection, analysis, and presentation. Establish clear criteria for success and regularly monitor progress to stay on track.

5. Implement Methodological Rigor

If your project involves research, ensure methodological rigor by selecting appropriate research methods, tools, and techniques. 

Develop a detailed research design or project plan that addresses key methodological considerations, such as sampling, data collection, analysis, and validity. Adhere to ethical guidelines and best practices throughout the research process.

6. Analyze and Interpret Findings

Analyze your data or findings using appropriate analytical techniques and tools. Interpret the results in relation to your research questions or objectives, highlighting key patterns, trends, or insights. 

Critically evaluate the significance and implications of your findings within the broader context of your field or industry.

7. Communicate Effectively

Present your capstone project clearly, concisely, and compellingly. Whether it's a written report, presentation, or multimedia deliverable, tailor your communication style to your target audience. Clearly articulate your research questions, methodology, findings, and conclusions. 

Use visuals, examples, and real-world applications to enhance understanding and engagement. Be prepared to defend your project and answer questions from peers, faculty, or stakeholders.

In wrapping up, what is a capstone project? It’s like the grand finale of your academic journey, where all the knowledge and skills you've acquired come together in one big project. 

It's not just about passing a test or getting a grade – it's about proving you've got what it takes to make a real difference in the world. So, if you ever need capstone project help , our writers will gladly lend you a hand in no time.

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What Is a Capstone Project in College?

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Annie Lambert

Annie Lambert

specializes in creating authoritative content on marketing, business, and finance, with a versatile ability to handle any essay type and dissertations. With a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a passion for social issues, her writing not only educates but also inspires action. On EssayPro blog, Annie delivers detailed guides and thought-provoking discussions on pressing economic and social topics. When not writing, she’s a guest speaker at various business seminars.

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is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

  • T. (2023, June 16). What Is a Capstone Project? National University. https://www.nu.edu/blog/what-is-a-capstone-project/
  • Lukins, S. (2024, May 12). What is a capstone project? And why is it important? Top Universities. https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/careers-advice-articles/what-capstone-project-why-it-important
  • Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference? (2021, December 9). UAGC. https://www.uagc.edu/blog/capstone-project-vs-thesis-whats-difference

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