Definition Essay Writing

Definition Essay Topics

Barbara P

150 Best Definition Essay Topics For Students

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Published on: Jun 6, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 29, 2023

Definition Essay Topics

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Ever struggled to pick a good topic for your definition essay? You're not alone; it can be a real challenge.

Choosing the right topic isn't just about finding something random. It's about picking one that gets you excited and grabs your reader's attention.

But don't worry! We have got you covered. 

In this blog, you’ll get some great definition essay topics and useful tips on how to choose a definition essay topic. All you have to do is give this article a good read and pick an amazing topic of your interest.

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A Closer Look at Definition Essay

A definition essay is a type of academic writing that defines or explains a word, term, concept, or idea. There are some words that have literal meanings and they are very easy to explain i.e. pencil, table, chair, etc. 

There are some terms that have abstract meanings and are difficult to explain i.e. love, care, emotion, and feelings.

This type of essay includes both the official meanings of the word and the writer's interpretation. This interpretation is supported by examples.

A good definition essay will not exceed one page in length, and it should include 250-500 words. The goal is for the student to expand on a word’s usage. This can be done by explaining other possible concepts of what they are analyzing - this makes them more interesting!

Definition Essay Topics Ideas

When you search over the internet you’ll get plenty of definition essay topics. Having a lot of ideas in hand can make the topic selection process difficult. That is why we have compiled a list of some effective and interesting definition essay topics. 

Check out these creative definition essay topics lists below and choose the best one for your essay.

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Definition Essay Topics for High School Students

  • Identity in the Digital Age
  • Empathy in a Diverse World
  • Global Citizenship
  • Intellectual Curiosity
  • Civic Engagement
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Cultural Fluency
  • Mindfulness in Education
  • Critical Thinking

Definition Essay Topics for College Students

  • What is the meaning of optimism?
  • What does sincerity mean?
  • Love at first sight
  • The true meaning of respect
  • The actual definition of family
  • Define Buddhism
  • Who is a strong leader?
  • What is the actual meaning of ambitions?
  • Define racism in your own words
  • How will you define success?

Definition Essay Topic on Mass Media

  • The evolution of 'news' in the digital age: redefining journalism.
  • The true meaning of 'media bias': navigating perspectives.
  • The influence of 'social media': defining modern connectivity.
  • The power of 'advertising': shaping perceptions and desires.
  • Reality TV: a new definition of 'entertainment'?
  • The impact of 'fake news': deconstructing information manipulation.
  • The definition of 'clickbait': balancing engagement and misleading content.
  • Streaming services: redefining 'television' in the 21st century.
  • The role of 'podcasts' in modern communication: beyond radio.
  • Citizen journalism: broadening the scope of 'media.

Funny Definition Essay Topics

  • Awkward Dancing
  • Chaos Theory
  • Social Media Stalking
  • Mismatched Socks
  • Infinite Scroll
  • Bad Hair Days
  • Pajama Fashion
  • Fast Food Gourmet
  • Napping Olympics
  • Pencil Tossing

Creative Definition Essay Topics 

  • The Essence of Wanderlust: Defining the Spirit of Adventure
  • Epic Fails: The Art and Science of Learning from Mistakes
  • Digital Detox: Navigating Life in the Age of Screens
  • Ambition Redefined: Pursuing Dreams in the Real World
  • Friendship in the Digital Age: The Modern Definition of 'BFF'
  • Mindfulness Unveiled: Embracing the Present Moment
  • Nostalgia: Journeying into the Past Through Rose-Tinted Glasses
  • Resilience: Bouncing Back from Life's Unexpected Twists
  • The Art of Simplicity: Finding Beauty in the Basics
  • Silence Speaks: Exploring the Power of Quiet Moments

Easy Definition Essay Topics 

  • Privacy 
  • Humanity 

Good Definition Essay Topics

  • Describe laziness
  • Define attitude
  • What is magnetism?
  • How do you define attraction?
  • Define human rights
  • What is the meaning of responsibilities?
  • Time management
  • Define health
  • Define class
  • What is the meaning of wealth

Unique Definition Essay Topics

  • The quirkiness of 'fam': exploring unconventional family structures.
  • The essence of 'chill': beyond a relaxing vibe.
  • Defining 'awkward': navigating social discomfort.
  • The true meaning of 'indie': beyond music and film.
  • The 'vibe' culture: capturing the unspoken atmosphere.
  • Decoding 'meme culture': more than just humor.
  • The complexity of 'cool': an ever-changing definition.
  • The 'hacktivist' movement: merging hacking and activism.
  • Retro: nostalgia or a timeless definition?
  • The art of 'hygge': coziness in a single word.

One Word Definition Essay Topics:

  • Sustainability

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Classification and Definition Essay Topics

  • Types of friendship: defining bonds beyond acquaintanceship.
  • Genres of literature: from mystery to science fiction.
  • Learning styles: understanding varied approaches to education.
  • Personality types: navigating the landscape of traits.
  • Cuisine categories: exploring the world through food.
  • Forms of government: beyond democracy and authoritarianism.
  • Music genres: from classical to experimental.
  • Social media users: the diverse landscape of online presence.
  • Educational philosophies: from Montessori to Waldorf.
  • The world of gaming: classifying video game genres.

Simple Definition Essay Topics:

  • Friendship: what does it truly mean to be a friend?
  • Happiness: beyond smiles and laughter.
  • Home: defining the heart of comfort.
  • Success: navigating achievements and fulfillment.
  • Courage: facing fear with grace.
  • Kindness: the power of small acts.
  • Respect: cultivating dignity in interactions.
  • Family: beyond blood ties.
  • Trust: the foundation of genuine connections.
  • Wisdom: gained through experience and reflection.

Extended Definition Essay Topics

  • What does the term freedom mean?
  • Define ownership in your own words
  • What is the meaning of the term character?
  • The current American dream
  • The evolution of the definitions
  • Define experience in your own words
  • What is common sense?
  • Explore the term science
  • What role does a degree play in a student’s life?
  • Time: The Elusive Concept That Shapes Our Lives

Random Definition Essay Topics

  • Small business
  • Masculinity
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Individuality

Definition Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Democracy vs. Dictatorship
  • Meaning of two sides of a coin
  • Classical music vs. Pop music
  • Friendship vs. Love
  • The Fluid Concept of 'Justice'
  • Equality vs. Equity
  • The Definition of 'Art'
  • Security in the 21st Century
  • Defining 'Fake News' in a Post-Truth Society
  • The Definition of 'Heroism'

Controversial Definition Essay Topics

  • Defining Patriotism: Where Loyalty Ends and Extremism Begins.
  • Freedom of Speech: Navigating the Thin Line Between Expression and Harm.
  • The Slippery Slope of Political Correctness: Balancing Respect and Censorship.
  • The Fluid Boundaries of 'Cultural Appropriation' in Art and Fashion.
  • Gender Identity: Beyond Binary – The Controversy of Pronouns.
  • The Definition of 'Addiction': Disease or Personal Responsibility?
  • Euthanasia: Dignity in Death or Slippery Moral Slope?
  • The Controversy of 'Trigger Warnings': Protecting or Censoring?
  • Defining 'Fake News' in a Post-Truth Era: Information or Manipulation?
  • The Line Between 'National Security' and Invasion of Privacy.

How to Choose a Definition Essay Topic?

The success of your essay majorly depends on the topic. A good topic is a key element in writing a good essay. So when you choose a topic for your essay, keep the following things in mind.

  • Choose a topic that has a broad meaning rather than a literal meaning.
  • Make sure you understand the topic completely.
  • Make sure that the subject should be interesting for you.
  • The topic should be interesting for the reader as well.
  • Choose a word, idea or term that is fresh for the audience.
  • Avoid picking any common topic that the reader is already familiar with.
  • Choose an idea that connects with your target audience.

Choosing a controversial topic is quite easier than choosing a common definition essay topic. As you have a few options to choose from and a little space to write about it. But if you keep the instructions given above in mind, you can easily choose an amazing topic for your essay.

Tips on How to Write a Definition Essay

Here are some tips that you should learn before writing your essay. These steps will help you structure your essay in a proper format.

  • Pick an interesting and unique paper topic.
  • Research the topic thoroughly and collect detailed information about it.
  • Create a definition essay outline , it will help you follow the essay pattern. Without an outline, it is really difficult to craft a good essay according to the format.
  • Tell the exact meaning of your subject in the introduction part. Present the thesis statement that provides a detailed meaning of the essay topic. Your introduction should be able to grab the reader’s attention and make them read the complete essay.
  • In the body paragraphs, provide evidence that supports your personal and dictionary definitions. Elaborate on the topic with the help of your personal experience examples.
  • In the conclusion section, just sum up all the explanations and descriptions. This is akin to closing remarks, so do not provide a fresh idea over here. Provide your close remarks and finish the essay.
  • After writing the essay, spare some time for the proofreading and editing process. Check your essay for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Remove all the errors from the essay to make it flawless.

Definition Essay Structure

Your final definition paper may have a structure similar to this:

  • A copy-pasted or paraphrased definition from the dictionary.
  • Writer’s personal understanding and interpretation of the word. 
  • An example of the usage of the word in a real context. 
  • Supporting evidence justifying the writer’s interpretation of the word.
  • Conclusion summarizing each point briefly. 

In conclusion, our exploration into the world of definition essays has been a journey of discovery. We've dived into the meanings of words, navigated through controversies, and embraced creativity. Words are more than just letters; they have the power to shape thoughts and connect us in unique ways.

This essay writing guide will help you a lot in writing your essay. Make sure you follow the procedure so that you don’t make any mistakes.

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Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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arguing definition essay topics

Definition Essay Topics: The Best Selections

arguing definition essay topics

In the ever-evolving landscape of academic writing, the definition essay topic has emerged as a versatile and dynamic form of expression. However, what many may find surprising is that the roots of this genre trace back to ancient Greece, where philosophers like Socrates engaged in dialectical conversations to uncover the true essence of abstract concepts. These early philosophical dialogues laid the foundation for the modern definition essay, a genre that continues to thrive today, with topics ranging from profound metaphysical inquiries to the analysis of everyday concepts that shape our lives.

Definition Essay Topics: Short Description

In this article, you'll embark on a learning journey to grasp the ins and outs of what makes a definition essay unique. We'll guide you through the art of crafting these essays, providing you with the essential skills and techniques to express your ideas effectively. But that's not all – our platform, where you have the option to buy essay online , will also open the door to a world of inspiration with a plethora of engaging topic suggestions and enlightening example essays. With this resource at your fingertips, you're poised to become a confident and skilled at writing a definition essay in no time!

What is Definition Essay

At first glance, a definition essay might seem like the most straightforward form of writing. After all, it's right there in the name, isn't it? You define something, and you're done! Well, not quite. While the basic premise is to provide a clear and concise explanation of a particular term or concept, the true artistry of your definition custom essays lies in its ability to transcend mere dictionary definitions. It's a form of linguistic gymnastics, a quest to unlock the multifaceted nature of words and ideas.

Consider this: Is a tree merely a collection of roots, branches, leaves, and bark? Or is it something more profound? Exploring a topic for a definition essay ventures beyond the ordinary to dissect these elements, exploring their significance, historical context, and even their emotional resonance. It delves into the nuances, exposing the rich tapestry of meanings that a single word can carry.

One of the most alluring aspects of the definition essay topics is its dance with ambiguity. Words are not always neatly packaged entities; they often morph with time and context. What was once a straightforward term can evolve into a complex, multidimensional concept. This essay form allows writers to revel in this ambiguity, to question and examine the ever-shifting boundaries of language.

When generating captivating definition research paper topics , these concise points can serve as a starting point:

  • Cultural Shifts : Investigate how societal changes reshape a term's meaning.
  • Controversial Concepts : Explore terms sparking debates with multiple interpretations.
  • Untranslatable Words : Delve into culturally unique, untranslatable terms.
  • Morphing in the Digital Age : Examine how digital advancements redefine terminology.
  • Philosophical Abstractions : Analyze complex philosophical concepts.
  • Cultural Context : Study how terms vary across cultures and regions.
  • Concepts in Literature and Art : Explore how artists redefine terms.

Key Aspects of Good Definition Essay Topics

Choosing the right definition essay topic can be as daunting as searching for buried treasure. However, when it comes to writing a definition essay, the quest for the perfect topic becomes an art in itself. So, what are the key aspects of a captivating definition essay topic? Let's embark on this intellectual adventure and unearth the gems hidden within these topics.

Definition Essay Topics

  • Complexity and Depth : Much like when learning how to write a hook for an essay , look for terms that aren't just superficial labels but concepts with depth, history, and room for interpretation.
  • Controversy and Debate : Seek out topics that spark debate and controversy. These are the battlefields of ideas, where multiple perspectives collide.
  • Relevance and Significance : The best topics are those that resonate with the times. A topic that speaks to the human experience, both past and present, is worth its weight in gold.
  • Personal Connection : A great definition essay topic often has a personal resonance. This personal connection can infuse your essay with passion and authenticity, making it more engaging for your readers.
  • Room for Exploration : A good topic should provide ample room for exploration. It shouldn't be so narrow that you run out of things to say after a few paragraphs, nor so broad that it becomes overwhelming.
  • Intellectual Challenge : Embrace the challenge. A good topic should make you think, question, and dig deeper. It should push you to research, analyze, and perhaps even challenge your own assumptions.
  • Uniqueness : Finally, strive for uniqueness. While classic topics have their merits, exploring lesser-known terms or offering a fresh perspective on a well-trodden path can make your essay stand out.

How To Choose Definition Essay Topics

Selecting the perfect words for your paper can be a formidable task. Here's a guide to help you navigate this linguistic maze:

  • Embrace Complexity : Don't settle for words with a single, straightforward meaning. Opt for terms that invite you to flex your writing muscles and showcase your subject expertise.
  • Stir Debate : Seek words that thrive on controversy within varying contexts. A great definition essay thrives on the debates surrounding the term, so choose words that spark discussions.
  • Build Your Lexicon : Create a repository of potential definition essay topic ideas, especially when your instructor leaves the choice up to you. Having a list ready ensures you're never short of intriguing subjects.
  • Multiple Meanings : Delve into the richness of language by exploring words with multiple meanings. They offer a canvas for you to paint multifaceted portraits of ideas, pushing your writing to new heights.

Diving into Intriguing Definition Essay Topics

Having a captivating topic at your disposal is like holding the key to unlocking a world of ideas. It's your ticket to dive deep into a subject, concept, or notion and let your creativity soar. Below, you'll find an endless list of captivating topic ideas to spark your creativity and inspire your writing journey. So, let your exploration begin!

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Send us your request and be sure that you’ll receive a definition essay on any topic of the highest quality within the set timeframe!Diving into Intriguing Definition Essay Topics

Extended Definition Essay Topics

  • Cybersecurity: Explore the evolving concept of cybersecurity in the digital age and its importance in safeguarding information.
  • Cancel Culture: Analyze the phenomenon of 'cancel culture' and its impact on freedom of speech and public figures.
  • Sustainable Living: Define what it means to live sustainably and how individuals can make environmentally conscious choices.
  • Mental Health Stigma: Investigate the stigma surrounding mental health and how it affects individuals and society.
  • Intersectionality: Delve into the concept of intersectionality, examining how various social identities intersect and influence a person's experiences.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Define the ever-expanding world of artificial intelligence and its implications for society, ethics, and employment.
  • Cultural Appropriation: Explore the nuances of cultural appropriation in fashion, art, and entertainment industries.
  • The Gig Economy: Define the gig economy and its impact on the traditional job market and workers' rights.
  • Gender Fluidity: Analyze the concept of gender fluidity and how it challenges traditional gender norms.
  • Cryptocurrency: Define the world of cryptocurrency and its potential to reshape the financial landscape.
  • Climate Change: Explore the concept of climate change and its far-reaching effects on the planet, ecosystems, and human societies.
  • Body Positivity: Examine the body positivity movement and its role in redefining beauty standards and self-esteem.
  • Online Privacy: Define online privacy in the digital age and discuss the ethical implications of data collection and surveillance.
  • Civic Engagement: Analyze the concept of civic engagement and its importance in modern democracies, focusing on youth involvement.
  • Minimalism: Explore the philosophy of minimalism and its impact on lifestyle, consumerism, and sustainability.

Funny Definition Essay Topics

  • Procrastination: Define the art of procrastination and its various stages, from 'productive procrastination' to 'epic procrastination fails.'
  • Internet Memes: Explore the world of internet memes, their origins, and their role in modern online culture.
  • Dad Jokes: Define the characteristics of dad jokes and their enduring appeal, even when they make us groan.
  • The 'Hangry' Phenomenon: Analyze the concept of being 'hangry' (hungry + angry) and its effects on behavior and relationships.
  • Netflix Binge-Watching: Define the act of binge-watching TV series on Netflix and its impact on productivity and sleep patterns.
  • The Art of Selfies: Explore the world of selfies and the psychology behind capturing the perfect self-portrait.
  • Properly Folding Fitted Sheets: Define the elusive skill of folding fitted sheets in a way that doesn't resemble a wad of laundry.
  • The Perfect Cup of Coffee: Analyze what constitutes the perfect cup of coffee and the rituals surrounding its creation.
  • Social Media Stalking: Explore the humorous side of social media stalking and the fine line between curiosity and obsession.
  • Tardiness: Define the concept of 'always late' and the comical excuses that accompany perpetual tardiness.
  • Pajama Fashion: Examine the trend of wearing pajamas in public and the evolving definition of comfortable fashion.
  • The 'Unread' Email: Define the ever-expanding category of unread emails in our inboxes and the guilt it carries.
  • The 'Diet Starts Tomorrow' Mentality: Analyze the humorous cycle of starting a diet 'tomorrow' and the pitfalls of procrastination in healthy living.
  • Pet Personifications: Explore how pet owners anthropomorphize their pets and the humorous conversations they have with their furry friends.
  • The 'I'll Just Google It' Approach to DIY: Define the DIY spirit and the humorous consequences of relying on Google for home improvement projects.

Society Definition Essay Topics

  • Community: Explore the meaning of a 'community' in the digital age and its role in people's lives.
  • Cultural Diversity: Explore the significance of cultural diversity in contemporary society.
  • Work-Life Balance: Analyze the concept of work-life balance and its significance in modern society.
  • Family Dynamics: Explore changing family dynamics and relationships in today's society.
  • Education Accessibility: Define education accessibility and its impact on social mobility.
  • Youth Engagement: Analyze the role of youth engagement in shaping the future of societies.
  • Consumer Culture: Define the influence of consumer culture on societal values and priorities.
  • Environmental Conservation: Define environmental conservation and its significance in contemporary society.
  • Online Dating: Analyze the impact of online dating on modern relationships and societal norms.
  • Volunteerism: Explore the meaning and importance of volunteerism in society today.

Creative Definition Essay Topics

  • Techlash: Define the concept of 'techlash' - the backlash against big tech companies - and explore its implications for the tech industry and society.
  • Instafame: Analyze the notion of 'instafame,' where individuals become famous primarily through social media platforms like Instagram.
  • Eco-Anxiety: Define 'eco-anxiety' and its growing presence in a world grappling with climate change and environmental concerns.
  • Nomophobia: Explore the term' nomophobia,' or the fear of being without one's mobile phone, and its impact on modern behavior.
  • Doomscrolling: Analyze the phenomenon of 'doomscrolling,' where individuals obsessively consume negative news and its effects on mental health.
  • Infodemic: Define 'infodemic,' the overwhelming spread of misinformation during crises, such as pandemics, and its consequences.
  • Dark Patterns: Define 'dark patterns' in UX design and how they are used to influence user behavior online.
  • Virtual Learning Fatigue: Explore 'virtual learning fatigue' and the challenges it poses to students during remote education.
  • Algorithmic Bias: Analyze the issue of 'algorithmic bias' in technology and its impact on fairness and equity in AI systems.
  • Zoom Fatigue: Define 'Zoom fatigue' and discuss its prevalence in a world increasingly reliant on virtual meetings.
  • Post-Truth Era: Explore the 'post-truth era,' characterized by the erosion of facts and objective reality in public discourse.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Define 'FOMO' and discuss how it affects decision-making and well-being in the digital age.
  • Digital Detox: Analyze the concept of a 'digital detox' and its popularity as a way to combat screen addiction and regain mindfulness.
  • Phubbing: Analyze the term 'phubbing,' or the act of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone, and its impact on interpersonal relationships and communication.
  • Influencer Burnout: Define 'influencer burnout' and examine the pressures and challenges faced by social media influencers in their pursuit of online fame and success.

Common Definition Essay Topics

  • Friendship: Define the concept of friendship and its characteristics, such as trust, loyalty, and companionship.
  • Success: Analyze what constitutes success and how it varies from person to person and across cultures.
  • Love: Define the multifaceted and often complex emotion of love, exploring its different forms and expressions.
  • Respect: Define respect and its significance in personal relationships, professional settings, and society at large.
  • Courage: Analyze the concept of courage, discussing acts of bravery and their motivations.
  • Happiness: Define happiness and explore the factors that contribute to individual happiness and well-being.
  • Freedom: Analyze the meaning of freedom and its various dimensions, including political, personal, and social freedom.
  • Justice: Define justice and its role in legal systems, fairness, and the treatment of individuals in society.
  • Leadership: Explore the qualities and attributes that define effective leadership in various contexts.
  • Beauty: Define beauty and discuss how perceptions of beauty can be subjective and culturally influenced.

History Definition Essay Topics

  • Colonialism: Define colonialism and discuss its impact on colonized regions, economies, and cultures.
  • Renaissance: Analyze the Renaissance period and its contributions to art, literature, and intellectual thought.
  • Industrial Revolution: Define the Industrial Revolution and its transformative effects on society, labor, and urbanization.
  • Civil Rights Movement: Explore the Civil Rights Movement and its pursuit of equality and racial justice in the United States.
  • Feudalism: Define feudalism and its hierarchical social structure during the Middle Ages.
  • Imperialism: Analyze imperialism and the expansion of European powers into Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Enlightenment: Define the Enlightenment era and its emphasis on reason, science, and individual rights.
  • World War I: Explore the causes, events, and consequences of World War I on a global scale.
  • Great Depression: Define the Great Depression and its impact on the economy, society, and government policies.
  • Cold War: Analyze the Cold War era, including the ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Holocaust: Define the Holocaust and its tragic events during World War II, discussing its historical significance.
  • Cultural Revolution (China): Explore China's Cultural Revolution and its profound impact on society, politics, and culture.
  • Ancient Egypt: Define the civilization of Ancient Egypt and its contributions to architecture, religion, and governance.
  • The French Revolution: Analyze the French Revolution and its role in the transformation of France and Europe.
  • The Silk Road: Define the historical Silk Road trade routes and their impact on the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures.

Philosophy Definition Essay Topics

  • Existentialism: Define existentialism and explore its key principles, including individual freedom and the search for meaning in life.
  • Utilitarianism: Analyze the philosophy of utilitarianism, which focuses on maximizing overall happiness and minimizing suffering.
  • Ethical Relativism: Define ethical relativism and discuss the idea that ethical standards vary depending on culture and context.
  • Dialectical Materialism: Explore the concept of dialectical materialism, a fundamental principle in Marxist philosophy.
  • Absurdism: Define absurdism and discuss its exploration of the inherent meaninglessness of life.
  • Virtue Ethics: Analyze virtue ethics and its emphasis on cultivating moral character traits.
  • Determinism: Define determinism and examine the philosophical debate over free will and determinism.
  • Social Contract Theory: Explore social contract theory and its implications for political philosophy and governance.
  • Dualism: Analyze dualism, which posits a separation between mind and body, and its philosophical implications.
  • Hedonism: Define hedonism and discuss the pursuit of pleasure as the highest good.
  • Epistemology: Explore epistemology, the study of knowledge, and its branches, including empiricism and rationalism.
  • Ontology: Define ontology and discuss its exploration of the nature of being and existence.
  • Skepticism: Analyze philosophical skepticism and its questioning of the certainty of knowledge.
  • Aesthetics: Explore aesthetics, the philosophy of art and beauty, and its subjective nature.
  • Nihilism: Define nihilism and discuss its rejection of traditional values and beliefs.

More Interesting Definition Essay Topics

  • Techno-Optimism: Define 'techno-optimism' and explore how it shapes attitudes toward technology's potential to solve global challenges.
  • Technostress: Define 'technostress' and explore its emergence in the digital age due to technology's overwhelming presence.
  • Dystopia: Define 'dystopia' and explore its characteristics, drawing parallels with contemporary society and literature.
  • Inclusivity: Explain the term 'inclusivity' and its role in promoting diversity and equity in various settings.
  • Deep Learning: Define 'deep learning' and its significance in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analysis.
  • Bioethics: Explore the field of 'bioethics' and its application in addressing ethical dilemmas in healthcare and biotechnology.
  • Cognitive Dissonance: Define 'cognitive dissonance' and discuss how it influences decision-making and behavior.
  • Information Overload: Explore 'information overload' and its impact on individuals' ability to process and manage vast amounts of data.
  • Virtual Reality: Define 'virtual reality' and discuss its applications beyond gaming, such as therapy, education, and architecture.
  • Quantum Supremacy: Define 'quantum supremacy' and discuss its significance in the field of quantum computing.

How to Write a Definition Essay: 6 Simple Tips

When selecting topics for definition essay, keep these expert tips in mind for successful writing:

Definition Essay Topics

  • Choose Wisely : Opt for more informative essay topics that go beyond simple nouns or verbs like 'swimming' or 'necklace.' Focus on processes or concepts that offer depth.
  • Add Your Insight : Alongside official dictionary definitions, provide your personal interpretations of the terms. Maintain a balanced perspective, avoiding excessive subjectivity.
  • Real-Life Examples : Enhance comprehension by incorporating real-world examples that illustrate how the term is used in context.
  • Embrace Complexity : Select social issues topics with multiple meanings, such as beauty, fight, freedom, or rock, to enrich your analysis.
  • Skip the Mundane : Avoid discussing universal words like 'hi,' 'café,' or 'telephone' to ensure a more engaging essay.
  • Research Matters : While it's not a research paper, conduct some background research to uncover the term's origins, various meanings, and historical usage, making your essay more captivating.

Definition Essay Example

Here, we've prepared some compelling definition essay examples that illuminate the richness of language and thought, providing clarity on topics both familiar and intriguing. These definition essay topics invite you to embark on a journey of understanding, where your own words and concepts reveal their hidden depths and discover more about the human experience.

Final Words

In the realm of definition essays, the power of words to shape our understanding of the world becomes evident. Through this diverse array of topics, we've unlocked the doors to deeper comprehension and insight. So, choose your definition essay topic wisely, apply your unique perspective, and let the fascinating world of definitions broaden your horizons, one word at a time. And if you ever need a simple yet helpful guide to how to write a conclusion for an essay , we've got you covered on that too!

Unlock the Lexicon of Brilliance!

Choose your best definition essay topics today and let our word wizards conjure intellectual magic!

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Final Words

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

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

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

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

What Is a Definition Essay?

A definition paper is one of the most common essay types, often assigned in schools and colleges. This type of paper has a similar structure to a regular essay. However, it has a different purpose. Our paper writing service will tell you in detail what it definition essay and how to work with it correctly.

In a nutshell, the core goal of definition essays is to explain a chosen word, phrase, or complex to the reader. Therefore, students must carefully study and analyze the desired concept to achieve this goal.


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

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

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

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

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

Definition Essay Structure

In the process of composing any essay type, writing skills define success. Hence, useful tips are what you need at all stages, including writing an outline. Usually, students write definition essays by the general essay rules. So, by common sense, your work should look like this:

  • Introduction and thesis statement
  • Several body paragraphs

Essay writing guides recommend performing good research before writing a plan. Start with an interesting sentence to draw your reader’s attention. Then, for the main body, look up all the explanations of the particular word. How do people understand its literal meaning? How does society use it in everyday life? Maybe, you have a personal experience connected to this term, so write about it! Finally, as an illustration, pick an abstract word like self-esteem or peer pressure.

Eventually, add some closing remarks where you rephrase the main idea of the work. Now you have your perfect essay without hiring writers, thanks to professional writing advice!

How to Make the Right Choice of a Definition Essay Topic

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

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

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

definition topic

  • Start in advance to have enough time to choose a perfect topic and conduct thorough research.
  • Read a few samples of an essay to get a clear idea of what topics other students choose and understand what teachers expect of you.
  • Make a list of options you can choose.
  • Opt for topics that are clear and familiar to you.
  • Conduct primary research to collect facts and details about your options.
  • Analyze the available facts to choose the right topic.
  • Don’t choose a topic that is too boring.
  • Don’t opt for too generic words that are clear to everyone.
  • Don’t choose words that don’t have any hidden meaning.
  • Don’t use topics that are too controversial and create debates since your goal is to define the term but not to argue about something.

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

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

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7 Most Common Types of Definition Essay Topics Lists

All definition essay topics can fall into several categories based on the purpose and nature of the essay you want to write. To use the write my paper service, you must choose the right topic category that aligns with the purpose of your academic writing.

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

Extended Definition Essay Topics

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

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

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

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

Definition Argument Essay Topics

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

Here are some good definition argument essay topics to consider:

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

Definition Essay Topics for College

College definition papers have the same purpose and requirements as standard definition essays. The main difference is that they must be deeper and clearly understand the defined concept.

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

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

Funny Definition Essay Topics

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

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

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

Controversial Definition Essay Topics

Definition essay topics that are controversial may be hard to disclose in a paper, but they are fun to discuss. Here are a few controversial themes to consider:

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

Abstract Definition Essay Topics

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

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

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

Easy Definition Essay Topics

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

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

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

More Definition Essay Topic Ideas by Category

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

Topics for Definition Essay about Poetry, Love, and Music

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

Definition Essay Topics about Food, Health, and Sport

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

Definition Essay Topics about Environment and Nature

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

Definition Essay Topics About Politics, History, and Governance

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

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

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

On top of that, you can think of society definition essay topics or sports definition essay topics. Ensure that you provide the different explanations in your research paper!

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

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

Read also our synthesis essay example . This guide will definitely be useful for you.

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Definition Essay Topics: Step By Step Guide 🤓| Studyfy

Definition Essay Topics

arguing definition essay topics

But writing an effective definition essay requires exploring the nuances of a word and explaining it from several different perspectives. Confused? Don’t worry, this article will tell you everything you need to know about how to write a high scoring definition essay. 

What is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a common writing assignment in schools and universities. Put simply, It asks a student to choose a word and define it in-depth. The common dictionary definition is the first thing to state (in your own words), then the lesser-known meanings of the concept, followed by personal anecdotes and opinions further explaining the word. 

These assignments usually have word limits of up to 500 words. There are two main difficulties, either finding a definition essay topic to write 500 words about or fitting a lengthy and complex definition into the word limit. 

Some words are concrete concepts like clothes, telescope, or computer which may seem simple to write about but are ill-suited topics for a definition essay, while others are abstract like morality, envy, or justice which are much better because they allow for a more nuanced essay.  

Writing a successful definition essay means exploring a word more deeply than just stating its definition. The goal is to show a deep understanding of the chosen word or concept. Choosing the right word is crucial to writing a successful definition essay.

The overall structure of a definition paper is the same as any essay. Just remember that each body paragraph should explain the term in a different way.

How to Choose a Definition Essay Topic

Choosing the right topic can make or break your essay. What is a good topic for a definition essay? Concrete concepts may seem easy to write about, but they often defeat the purpose of the assignment by not letting the writer show their critical thinking and writing skills. 

An abstract concept with disputed meanings or definition essay topics with multiple meanings will give you enough to write about, but choose something specific rather than broad. Paranoia is a better definition essay topic choice than just the concept of fear in general. Remember, you have to find a concept that you know enough to write about, but also one that you can fully explain in about 500 words or so.

Avoid choosing a noun about a place, person, or thing since they are concrete concepts and might not give you enough to write about. An abstract noun, referring to an idea and adjectives are better choices for a definition essay topic. For example, gaming rather than console.

Choose a word that you already have some information about or feel passionate about. The better you know the concept, the easier it will be to write.

Answering some questions will help you understand and decide on a word.

What is the Origin of the Word?

What are the roots of the word? What do the roots mean? How did the modern meaning of the word come to be? Understanding the roots of a word can give you insight into what the word truly means and be excellent research for your essay.

What is the Context of the Word?

Does the word mean the same thing in different contexts? It’s quite possible that the word means different things in different places, or that there are multiple meanings to the word that you aren’t aware of.

What are the Previous Versions of the Word?

The meanings of words tend to change over time. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s drastic. Tracking the previous meaning of the word will give you insight into the evolution of its meaning. 

What is the Common Modern Usage of the Word?

The way the word is used today should be the main explanation. By doing the research you make sure that you aren’t working with an outdated concept of the word.

Just because you now know how to choose a topic for your definition essay doesn’t mean that examples won’t be helpful. Here’s a list of 100 good definition essay topics across several categories.

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Definition Essay Topics List by Category

Extended definition essay topics.

An extended definition essay has essentially the same purpose as a definition essay except it asks you to analyze the term even more deeply and gives you the opportunity to incorporate additional personal opinion. You can pinpoint the exact meaning of a term and explain why other meanings may be incorrect. Analyze the word by identifying its antonym (opposite). Delve deeper into the history and roots of the word to back your interpretations etc. The topic of an extended definition needs to be chosen carefully because there needs to be enough complexity to work with. Have a look at these definition essay topic ideas.

The difference between a “Novel” and other pieces of long-form writing.
Why poverty means different things in different countries
Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?
My experiments with truth 
Does faith actually require a leap?
The different forms of love
Is there really something as an “Ideal” form of something?
Why a home is more than a house
A stirring inside: Music
When are humans not acting?

Good Definition Argument Essay Topics

There are always going to be people on multiple sides of an issue. An argument definition essay gives you the chance to convince the reader of your perspective on a controversial or ill-defined concept. It lets you state what you feel and what side you’re on. Take a look at these topics for an argument definition essay.

Conspiracy theories are just as valid as mainstream theories
Deep dish versus New York: What makes a pizza a pizza?
Is emotional infidelity as bad as cheating?
Science fiction is the best literary genre
Sports are the ideal hobby
Is corporate social responsibility done for the wrong reasons?
The death penalty: Justice or arrogance?
Does secular mean all-inclusive or completely non-inclusive?
The difference between a freedom fighter and a rebel is which side wins
Patient care: A doctor who’s nice or a doctor who’s effective?

Definition Essay Topics for College

Definition essays assigned in college are expected to be masterfully written with nuance and subtle understanding of the concept being explored. The following are 10 examples of definition essay topics for college.

Is college the best path to upward social mobility?
Does maturity mean different things at different stages of life?
A personal account of personal independence 
The misery of loneliness
How to define success
Bullying doesn’t end in high school, it evolves
Homesick for the very first time
The joy of self-determination 
The importance of time management
Changing concepts of the self 

Funny Definition Essay Topics

A definition essay can be a fantastic opportunity to showcase your wit! You can choose to play with an amusing concept, or explore an idea from an interesting viewpoint. Get inspired by the following topics.

Puppy love: How a dog feels about its master
Why dork is a worse insult than you think
Wrench: A useful tool? Or to take something away?
Lit: Not about candles anymore
I speak sarcasm
Facebook: Social media for old-timers
I think my dads going through a midlife crisis
Jokes for children and why they aren't funny anymore
Why a Lorry is not a truck
French fries weren’t invented in France

Controversial Definition Essay Topics

Writing about things you’re passionate about is a good decision when writing a definition essay. These controversial topics should ignite your passion, just make sure that you don’t get too carried away!

Vaccines have changed the course of humanity
War, what is it good for?
What is the purpose of incarceration?
Is happiness overrated?
Why being sad doesn’t mean being depressed
Gaming doesn’t rot your brain
Is it still addiction without a physical dependency?
Romantic love is a modern concept
Globalist is actually a compliment
Why nationalism is bad

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Abstract Definition Essay Topics

Abstract topics for definition essay can be simple or incredibly complex. They give you the freedom to give your own interpretation (backed by supporting arguments) on words that have a fluid meaning. 

Honor is valued differently by people 
What does freedom mean for a refugee?
Schadenfreude: Pleasure at the misfortune of others
Compassion is the most valuable human trait 
I’m the best at being humble
The speed of thought
Boredom: A state of mind 
Why friendship means more than family 
Humour is the best medicine
Spotting a charismatic person

Easy Definition Essay Topics

It’s completely fine If you don’t want to explore a complicated concept or you just want something easy to write about. Give the words dictionary definition, explain the perception of the word, and then add your personal thoughts. Feel free to use some of these good topics for a definition essay.

What makes a house a home?
Why vacations are important
Laughter is the best medicine
What family means to me?
What is democracy?
Popularity and why it’s important
My connection with worship
What exactly is science?
Why is a beach the perfect place to be?
Dancing is freedom

Definition Essay Topics on Love, Poetry, and Music

A topic that you feel emotional about is always a good choice, and nothing inspires passion more than love, poetry, and music. 

Love: Pleasure through pain
Why plutonic love is the purest form of love
The fascinating ways love is expressed in different cultures
Poetry: Words that pull at the heart
Why poetry has always been admired
Do rap lyrics count as poetry?
Music: A language that every human speaks
Explaining different tastes in music
Music as the first form of human communication
The connection between dance and music

Definition Essay Topics on History, Politics, and Governance

Writing a definition essay about things you’re interested in or studying cut down on a lot of research time and can be more enjoyable. Or maybe your teacher assigned the general topic, in any case, here are some examples!

If history is written by the winners, do we really truly know what happened?
Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?
What is personal history?
The perception of politics in different places in the world
The origin of politics in early human civilizations
Politics: One for all or all for one?
Was the feudal system a form of social governance?
The changing role of governance in the 2020s
Governance: Serving the people or feeding one’s ego
The difference between politics and governance 

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

If you’re aspiring to join the business world or want an MBA, you’ll have to know the definitions and complexities of many terms. A lot of concepts in economics, business, IT, and commerce are abstract and ill-defined, which makes them perfect for a definition essay. Have a look at some of these topic examples. 

Is scarcity an artificial construct?
What does economic freedom really mean?
Economics in the middle ages
Business ethics in a globalized world
Is there a connection between busyness and business?
What makes a person a businessman?
The origins of the word “programming’
What information technology meant in the 1980s
Is free-market trade good for the world?
How monetary supply affects day to day life
This list of definition essay topics examples should set you on the right track! 

Things to Keep in Mind

The structure of a definition essay is the same as any other essay. The challenge is in describing a word or concept in a compelling way while showing in-depth understanding. Choosing the right definition essay topics are the most important element of writing a successful definition essay. Here’s a summary of how to make sure you’ve chosen an appropriate topic

  • An abstract concept is better than a concrete concept
  • Make the term specific rather than broad
  • The word should have multiple meanings
  • A word with disputed meaning is a good choice
  • Choose a word that has a different meaning based on the context
  • Select a topic that you already understand well
  • Choose a term that you feel passionately about
  • Identify the origins of the word
  • Look into previous versions of the word
  • Track the history of the word

If you are looking for assistance with your academic writing, Studyfy is a comprehensive platform that offers a range of services to suit your needs. Whether you require history essay help , need someone to write my philosophy essay , or seek support with term paper writing service or nursing paper writing service , Studyfy can provide you with the necessary assistance. Additionally, if you need help with a definition essay, whether it be finding example topics or receiving help from essay editors and online proofreading services, Studyfy is the one-stop solution for all your academic needs. With the support of Studyfy's essay writing service online , you can produce high-quality papers and showcase your writing skills with confidence.

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At some point, you’re going to be asked to write an argumentative essay. An argumentative essay is exactly what it sounds like—an essay in which you’ll be making an argument, using examples and research to back up your point.

But not all argumentative essay topics are created equal. Not only do you have to structure your essay right to have a good impact on the reader, but even your choice of subject can impact how readers feel about your work.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of writing argumentative essays, including what argumentative essays are, how to write a good one, and how to pick a topic that works for you. Then check out a list of argumentative essay ideas to help you get started.

What Is an Argumentative Essay?

An argumentative essay is one that makes an argument through research. These essays take a position and support it through evidence, but, unlike many other kinds of essays, they are interested in expressing a specific argument supported by research and evidence.

A good argumentative essay will be based on established or new research rather than only on your thoughts and feelings. Imagine that you’re trying to get your parents to raise your allowance, and you can offer one of two arguments in your favor:

You should raise my allowance because I want you to.

You should raise my allowance because I’ve been taking on more chores without complaining.

The first argument is based entirely in feelings without any factual backup, whereas the second is based on evidence that can be proven. Your parents are more likely to respond positively to the second argument because it demonstrates that you have done something to earn the increased allowance. Similarly, a well-researched and reasoned argument will show readers that your point has a basis in fact, not just feelings.

The standard five-paragraph essay is common in writing argumentative essays, but it’s not the only way to write one. An argumentative essay is typically written in one of two formats, the Toulmin model or the Rogerian model.

The Toulmin model is the most common, comprised of an introduction with a claim (otherwise known as a thesis), with data to support it. This style of essay will also include rebuttals, helping to strengthen your argument by anticipating counterarguments.

The Rogerian model analyzes two sides of an argument and reaches a conclusion after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Both essay styles rely on well-reasoned logic and supporting evidence to prove a point, just in two different ways.

The important thing to note about argumentative essays as opposed to other kinds of essays is that they aim to argue a specific point rather than to explain something or to tell a story. While they may have some things in common with analytical essays, the primary difference is in their objective—an argumentative essay aims to convince someone of something, whereas an analytical essay contextualizes a topic with research.


What Makes a Good Argumentative Essay?

To write an effective argumentative essay, you need to know what a good one looks like. In addition to a solid structure, you’ll need an argument, a strong thesis, and solid research.

An Argument

Unlike other forms of essays, you are trying to convince your reader of something. You’re not just teaching them a concept or demonstrating an idea—you’re constructing an argument to change the readers’ thinking.

You’ll need to develop a good argument, which encompasses not just your main point, but also all the pieces that make it up.

Think beyond what you are saying and include how you’re saying it. How will you take an idea and turn it into a complex and well thought out argument that is capable of changing somebody’s mind?

A Strong Thesis

The thesis is the core of your argument. What specific message are you trying to get across? State that message in one sentence, and that will be your thesis.

This is the foundation on which your essay is built, so it needs to be strong and well-reasoned. You need to be able to expand on it with facts and sources, not just feelings.

A good argumentative essay isn’t just based on your individual thoughts, but research. That can be citing sources and other arguments or it can mean direct research in the field, depending on what your argument is and the context in which you are arguing it.

Be prepared to back your thesis up with reporting from scientific journals, newspapers, or other forms of research. Having well-researched sources will help support your argument better than hearsay or assumptions. If you can’t find enough research to back up your point, it’s worth reconsidering your thesis or conducting original research, if possible.


How to Come Up With an Argumentative Essay Topic

Sometimes you may find yourself arguing things you don’t necessarily believe. That’s totally fine—you don’t actually have to wholeheartedly believe in what you’re arguing in order to construct a compelling argument.

However, if you have free choice of topic, it’s a good idea to pick something you feel strongly about. There are two key components to a good argumentative essay: a strong stance, and an assortment of evidence. If you’re interested and feel passionate about the topic you choose, you'll have an easier time finding evidence to support it, but it's the evidence that's most important. 

So, to choose a topic, think about things you feel strongly about, whether positively or negatively. You can make a list of ideas and narrow those down to a handful of things, then expand on those ideas with a few potential points you want to hit on.

For example, say you’re trying to decide whether you should write about how your neighborhood should ban weed killer, that your school’s lunch should be free for all students, or that the school day should be cut by one hour. To decide between these ideas, you can make a list of three to five points for each that cover the different evidence you could use to support each point.

For the weed killer ban, you could say that weed killer has been proven to have adverse impacts on bees, that there are simple, natural alternatives, and that weeds aren’t actually bad to have around. For the free lunch idea, you could suggest that some students have to go hungry because they can’t afford lunch, that funds could be diverted from other places to support free lunch, and that other items, like chips or pizza, could be sold to help make up lost revenue. And for the school day length example, you could argue that teenagers generally don’t get enough sleep, that you have too much homework and not enough time to do it, and that teenagers don’t spend enough time with their families.

You might find as you make these lists that some of them are stronger than others. The more evidence you have and the stronger you feel that that evidence is, the better the topic.  Of course, if you feel that one topic may have more evidence but you’d rather not write about it, it’s okay to pick another topic instead. When you’re making arguments, it can be much easier to find strong points and evidence if you feel passionate about our topic than if you don't.


50 Argumentative Essay Topic Ideas

If you’re struggling to come up with topics on your own, read through this list of argumentative essay topics to help get you started!

  • Should fracking be legal?
  • Should parents be able to modify their unborn children?
  • Do GMOs help or harm people?
  • Should vaccinations be required for students to attend public school?
  • Should world governments get involved in addressing climate change?
  • Should Facebook be allowed to collect data from its users?
  • Should self-driving cars be legal?
  • Is it ethical to replace human workers with automation?
  • Should there be laws against using cell phones while driving?
  • Has the internet positively or negatively impacted human society?


  • Should college athletes be paid for being on sports teams?
  • Should coaches and players make the same amount of money?
  • Should sports be segregated by gender?
  • Should the concept of designated hitters in baseball be abolished?
  • Should US sports take soccer more seriously?
  • Should religious organizations have to pay taxes?
  • Should religious clubs be allowed in schools?
  • Should “one nation under God” be in the pledge of allegiance?
  • Should religion be taught in schools?
  • Should clergy be allowed to marry?
  • Should minors be able to purchase birth control without parental consent?
  • Should the US switch to single-payer healthcare?
  • Should assisted suicide be legal?
  • Should dietary supplements and weight loss items like teas be allowed to advertise through influencers?
  • Should doctors be allowed to promote medicines?


  • Is the electoral college an effective system for modern America?
  • Should Puerto Rico become a state?
  • Should voter registration be automatic?
  • Should people in prison be allowed to vote?
  • Should Supreme Court justices be elected?
  • Should sex work be legalized?
  • Should Columbus Day be replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
  • Should the death penalty be legal?
  • Should animal testing be allowed?
  • Should drug possession be decriminalized?


  • Should unpaid internships be legal?
  • Should minimum wage be increased?
  • Should monopolies be allowed?
  • Is universal basic income a good idea?
  • Should corporations have a higher or lower tax rate?
  • Are school uniforms a good idea?
  • Should PE affect a student’s grades?
  • Should college be free?
  • Should Greek life in colleges be abolished?
  • Should students be taught comprehensive sex ed?


  • Should graffiti be considered art or vandalism?
  • Should books with objectionable words be banned?
  • Should content on YouTube be better regulated?
  • Is art education important?
  • Should art and music sharing online be allowed?


How to Argue Effectively

A strong argument isn’t just about having a good point. If you can’t support that point well, your argument falls apart.

One of the most important things you can do in writing a strong argumentative essay is organizing well. Your essay should have a distinct beginning, middle, and end, better known as the introduction, body and opposition, and conclusion.

This example follows the Toulmin model—if your essay follows the Rogerian model, the same basic premise is true, but your thesis will instead propose two conflicting viewpoints that will be resolved through evidence in the body, with your conclusion choosing the stronger of the two arguments.


Your hook should draw the reader’s interest immediately. Questions are a common way of getting interest, as well as evocative language or a strong statistic

Don’t assume that your audience is already familiar with your topic. Give them some background information, such as a brief history of the issue or some additional context.

Your thesis is the crux of your argument. In an argumentative essay, your thesis should be clearly outlined so that readers know exactly what point you’ll be making. Don’t explain all your evidence in the opening, but do take a strong stance and make it clear what you’ll be discussing.

Your claims are the ideas you’ll use to support your thesis. For example, if you’re writing about how your neighborhood shouldn’t use weed killer, your claim might be that it’s bad for the environment. But you can’t just say that on its own—you need evidence to support it.

Evidence is the backbone of your argument. This can be things you glean from scientific studies, newspaper articles, or your own research. You might cite a study that says that weed killer has an adverse effect on bees, or a newspaper article that discusses how one town eliminated weed killer and saw an increase in water quality. These kinds of hard evidence support your point with demonstrable facts, strengthening your argument.

In your essay, you want to think about how the opposition would respond to your claims and respond to them. Don’t pick the weakest arguments, either— figure out what other people are saying and respond to those arguments with clearly reasoned arguments.

Demonstrating that you not only understand the opposition’s point, but that your argument is strong enough to withstand it, is one of the key pieces to a successful argumentative essay.

Conclusions are a place to clearly restate your original point, because doing so will remind readers exactly what you’re arguing and show them how well you’ve argued that point.

Summarize your main claims by restating them, though you don’t need to bring up the evidence again. This helps remind readers of everything you’ve said throughout the essay.

End by suggesting a picture of a world in which your argument and action are ignored. This increases the impact of your argument and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

A strong argumentative essay is one with good structure and a strong argument , but there are a few other things you can keep in mind to further strengthen your point.

When you’re crafting an argument, it can be easy to get distracted by all the information and complications in your argument. It’s important to stay focused—be clear in your thesis and home in on claims that directly support that thesis.

Be Rational

It’s important that your claims and evidence be based in facts, not just opinion. That’s why it’s important to use reliable sources based in science and reporting—otherwise, it’s easy for people to debunk your arguments.

Don’t rely solely on your feelings about the topic. If you can’t back a claim up with real evidence, it leaves room for counterarguments you may not anticipate. Make sure that you can support everything you say with clear and concrete evidence, and your claims will be a lot stronger!

What’s Next?

No matter what kind of essay you're writing, a strong plan will help you have a bigger impact. This guide to writing a college essay is a great way to get started on your essay organizing journey!

Brushing up on your essay format knowledge to prep for the SAT? Check out this list of SAT essay prompts to help you kickstart your studying!

A bunch of great essay examples can help you aspire to greatness, but bad essays can also be a warning for what not to do. This guide to bad college essays will help you better understand common mistakes to avoid in essay writing!

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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50 Argumentative Essay Topics for Students

50 Argumentative Essay Topics for Students

4-minute read

  • 11th June 2022

The goal of an argumentative essay is to persuade the reader to understand and support your position on an issue by presenting your reasoning along with supporting evidence. It’s important to find the right balance between giving your opinions and presenting established research.

These essays discuss issues around a range of topics, including science, technology, politics, and healthcare. Whether you’re a teacher looking for essay topics for your students or a student tasked with developing an idea of your own, we’ve compiled a list of 50 argumentative essay topics to help you get started!

●  Does texting hinder interpersonal communication skills?

●  Should there be laws against using devices while driving?

●  Do violent video games teach or encourage people to behave violently?

●  Should social media sites be allowed to collect users’ data?

●  Should parents limit how long their children spend in front of screens?

●  Is AI helping or hurting society?

●  Should cyber-bullying carry legal consequences?

●  Should Supreme Court justices be elected?

●  Is war always a political decision?

●  Should people join a political party?

●  Is capitalism ethical?

●  Is the electoral college an effective system?

●  Should prisoners be allowed to vote?

●  Should the death penalty be legal?

●  Are governments around the world doing enough to combat global warming?

●  Is healthcare a fundamental human right?

●  Should vaccinations be mandated for children?

●  Are there any circumstances under which physician-assisted suicides should be legal?

●  Should parents be able to choose specific genetic modifications of their future children?

●  Should abortion be legal?

●  Is it ethical to perform medical experiments on animals?

●  Should patients who lead unhealthy lifestyles be denied organ transplants?

●  Should doctors be able to provide medical care to children against their parents’ wishes?

Mental Healthcare

●  What causes the stigma around mental health?

●  Discuss the link between insufficient access to mental health services and the high suicide rates among veterans.

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●  Should cannabis be used as a treatment for patients with mental disorders?

●  Is there a link between social media use and mental disorders?

●  Discuss the effect of physical activity on mental health.

●  Should sports be segregated by gender?

●  Should male and female athletes be given the same pay and opportunities?

●  Are professional athletes overpaid?

●  Should college athletes be paid?

●  Should sports betting be legal?

●  Should online access to art such as music be free?

●  Should graffiti be considered art or vandalism?

●  Are there any circumstances under which books should be banned?

●  Should schools be required to offer art courses?

●  Is art necessary to society?

●  Should schools require uniforms?

●  Should reciting the Pledge of Allegiance be required in schools?

●  Do standardized tests effectively measure intelligence?

●  Should high school students take a gap year before pursuing higher education?

●  Should higher education be free?

●  Is there too much pressure on high school students to attend college?

●  Are children better off in two-parent households?

●  Should LGBTQ+ partners be allowed to adopt?

●  Should single people be able to adopt children as easily as couples?

●  Is it okay for parents to physically discipline their children?

●  Does helicopter parenting help or hurt children?

●  Should parents monitor their children’s Internet use?

Proofreading & Editing

An argument could also be made for the importance of proofreading your essay ! The reader can focus more on your message when your writing is clear, concise, and error-free, and they won’t question whether you’re knowledgeable on the issues you’re presenting. Once you have a draft ready, you can submit a free trial document to start working with our expert editors!

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Definition Essay

Definition Essay Topics

Barbara P

Interesting Definition Essay Topics for Students

29 min read

Published on: Mar 22, 2023

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

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Definition Essay - Writing Guide, Examples and Tips

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Are you looking for an interesting way to explore and explain the meaning of words and phrases? If so, a definition essay may be just the type of writing assignment that you need!

In this essay, you will delve deep into the dictionary to find out what your chosen topic truly means. By considering all aspects of the definition, you can craft an insightful, informative, and creative paper.

To get you started, here is a list of 200 definition essay topics to provide plenty of inspiration!

Continue reading to choose the best option for your essay.

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Definition Essay - Overview

A definition essay is written for a specific purpose. This type of essay has a similar structure to other essays, but it is written to define a term or concept.

The main purpose of the definition essay is to explain a word, phrase, or complex to the reader. To do this, you must study and analyze the concept.

When writing a definition essay, the most important step is choosing a good topic. Topics can be very different, but it is best to choose a topic that allows for creativity and research.

What is the Purpose of a Definition Essay?

A definition essay is a type of essay that seeks to define and explain a concept, term, or idea. The goal of this type of essay is:

  • to explain the meaning of a concept, term, or idea
  • to examine how a concept, term, or idea is defined by different people and groups
  • to analyze the implications of a particular definition

In this type of essay, the writer must research a topic thoroughly to provide an accurate definition and analysis.

How to Choose a Definition Essay Topic?

The first element that contributes to the overall success of your essay is its topic. The topic is the first thing that a reader comes across and analyzes whether to read the document or not.

It may sound simple, but choosing the right topic for your essay can be extremely challenging. Deciding what to select that the audience will be interested in knowing is a tricky job.

The process of selecting the topic for your definition essay is as challenging as the essay’s writing procedure. It is both time-consuming and requires a writer to have strong analyzing skills.

If you have no clue how to come up with an engaging topic, follow the steps provided below:

  • Choose a word that is not too simple and has multiple interpretations.
  • You should have your perspective on the term.
  • Identify the targetted audience. 
  • Come up with an interesting topic.
  • Make sure that the topic is unique and engaging for the audience.

The definition essay topic can be of any sort. Just keep in mind to pick something fascinating.

Good Definition Essay Topics

If the topic chosen is strong and reflects your passion, it will be easier for you to gather information.

Often students find themselves with writer’s block and can not come up with a good topic. If you are in such a position, the list prepared by the expert writers of will help you decide on the paper topic.

Definition Essay Topics for High School

High school students often need to explore the concept of definition in order to better understand the world around them. these topics will help you begin that process:.

  • Importance of having self-respect
  • How does a high school student become more responsible in life?
  • How can a high school student become more creative in his writing?
  • What is kindness?
  • How personality contributes to a successful career?
  • What is charisma, and how important it is for being successful? 
  • What is the meaning of independence to a country?
  • The difference between communism and capitalism 
  • The meaning and origin of terrorism
  • What is the industrial revolution? 

These topics will provide the perfect opportunity to explore the concept of definition and help you create an engaging essay. Writing about these ideas can also stimulate your creativity, as well as encourage critical thinking.

Definition Essay Topics for College Students

College essays often require students to go deeper into the concept of definition. Here are some creative  topics that can help you begin your college essay:

  • What is good mental health?  Discuss its characteristics .
  • Inhumane things in our life
  • The meaning of the word phase in the context of heterogeneous and homogeneous mixtures. 
  • What is an essay outline?
  • What is hatred?
  • Understanding the relationship between demand and supply
  • Causes and effects of inflation
  • Marketing advertising strategies and tools
  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Cons of e-learning

These topics are interesting and engaging, allowing you to explore ideas in a new way. Writing about them can open up new perspectives and help you to create an essay that stands out.

See this example definition essay on happiness . It provides a valuable starting point for reflection and discussion.

Creative Definition Essay Topics

Creativity is an important part of both writing and life in general. Choosing creative topics can allow you to explore new ideas and express your thoughts in unique ways. These ideas can help you create an interesting and engaging essay:

  • How can globalization be described?
  • Traits of a good person
  • What is the definition of the term “white privilege”?
  • What does it mean to become a parent?
  • Characteristics of the “just” system
  • Define what anarchy is.
  • What does the word “femininity” mean to you?
  • What is peer pressure, and how do people get influenced by it?
  • What is a hippie movement?
  • How to understand colonization?

The above topics will allow you to explore the creative process and the importance of creativity in everyday life. Writing about them can help to inspire new ideas and look at familiar topics in a different way.

Definition Essay Topics About Friendship

Friendship is an important part of life, and it can be a powerful source of support and connection. These topics will help you explore the meaning and importance of friendship: 

  • What is the meaning of friendship to you?
  • Who is a genuine friend to you?
  • The role of friends in your life
  • The role of friends in one’s personality
  • Art and friendships
  • How do animals make better friends?
  • What does it mean to be friends with a narcissist?
  • Are friendship and love similar? 
  • My best friend
  • Qualities that make you a good friend

By exploring these topics, you can uncover the hidden meanings and lessons that friendship provides. Writing about them can help to deepen your understanding of how important it is.

Easy Definition Essay Topics for Students

Easy topics can still be interesting, and they are often simpler to write about than complex ones. These ideas are ideal for students who need to write an essay quickly: 

  • How to love yourself?
  • Love of God
  • Does love for money make you selfish?
  • Love and friendship
  • Describe school and college 
  • Abstract concepts
  • Significance of body paragraphs in an essay
  • What is cheating, and what is its impact on a relationship? 
  • Can a person forgive and forget their personal experience?
  • Importance of voting. Should all citizens vote? 

These topics will allow you to explore your understanding of various concepts and ideas.

Definition Essay Topics about Science and Technology

Science and Technology is an ever-growing field and often a source of inspiration for new essay topics.

These interesting ideas to explore when writing a definition essay about science and technology:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Data Science
  • Quantum Computing
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Space Exploration
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • 3D Printing
  • Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology

These are just a few examples that could be used as starting points for creating engaging and informative definition essays.

Top Definition Essay Topics about Love

Love is a complex emotion that can have different meanings depending on the person. It can be enlightening and help to express your feelings.

These ideas are great starting points for exploring this subject in an essay:

  • What does it mean to love someone?
  • What does it mean to love something?
  • Define the feeling of love
  • Love vs. hatred
  • The love of parents
  • Love and other emotions that can dominate people
  • Why is love the most powerful feeling in the world?
  • Loving your pets
  • Love of grandparents 
  • The consequences of passionate love 

These topics will help to explore the complexity of love and its many facets.

Definition Essay Topics on Society

The world is full of injustice, discrimination, and inequality. When writing a definition essay on these topics, consider how they are often used to define our society and its values.

Here are some ideas to explore:

  • Gender Roles
  • Social Class
  • Education System
  • Political Activism
  • Cultural Identity
  • Discrimination
  • Gay Marriage

These topics offer a great opportunity to explain important concepts and discuss issues of social justice. Writing about them can be an eye-opening experience for both the author and the readers.

Definition Essay Topics on Family and Happiness

Family and happiness are two of the most important things in life. It can help to illustrate their true importance, as well as how they are intertwined.

Check these amazing ideas for topics related to these concepts:

  • Family Values
  • The Meaning of Love
  • Parenting Styles
  • Supportive Relationships
  • The Pursuit of Happiness
  • Positive Thinking
  • Finding Inner Peace

These topics can be quite complex to write about, as they often require thoughtful consideration of personal values. However, they can also provide an opportunity for self-reflection and growth.

Definition Essay Topics about History

History is full of lessons and important moments that should never be forgotten. Exploring them through writing can help to bring them into the present day.

These topics offer a great starting point for exploring the past:

  • Civil Rights
  • Immigration
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The Great Depression
  • World War II
  • The Cold War
  • Globalization
  • The Fall of Communism
  • The Rise of Democracy
  • The War on Terror

These topics are great for understanding how civilizations have evolved over time. It can provide valuable insights into our world today. Writing about them can help to remind us of the importance of history in our lives.

Random Definition Essay Topics

Sometimes, it’s difficult to come up with interesting topics for an essay. If you’re stuck and don’t know what to write about, why not choose a random topic?

Here are some ideas:

  • The Meaning of Success
  • Time Management
  • The Nature of Emotions
  • Friendship in the Digital Age
  • The Power of Social Media
  • The Psychology of Dreams
  • The Role of Religion in Society
  • Exploring Cultural Differences
  • Exploring the Unknown
  • Finding Motivation in Life

These topics can be both fun and thought-provoking, offering a great opportunity to explore different ideas. Writing about them can help to broaden your perspective and inspire new ideas.

Great Definition Essay Topics on Sports

Sports is a popular topic for definition essays. It covers both the physical and mental aspects of the game.

These topics will help to get you started:

  • The Psychology of Winning
  • Teamwork and Leadership
  • Sports Injuries
  • Health Benefits of Sports
  • Coaching Styles
  • Mental Toughness
  • Competing for Gold
  • Olympic Dreams
  • Fantasy Sports Leagues
  • Leadership in Sports

The essay topics will allow you to explore the history and development of sports over time.

Definition Essay Topics on Mass Media 

Mass media plays an important role in modern society and can shape public opinion. Exploring these topics can be a great way to understand the power of media and the ways it influences our lives.

Get creative with these brilliant ideas:

  • The Rise of Social Media
  • Exploring Censorship
  • The Role of News in Society
  • Political Influence Through Media
  • The Power of Advertising
  • Exploring Reality vs. Perception
  • The Impact of Technology on Media
  • Fake News and Misinformation
  • The Influence of Pop Culture
  • Creating Engaging Content

Choose any of the above topics and explore how mass media affects society in a variety of ways.

Definition Essay Topics on Politics

Politics is a complex and often controversial topic, which makes it a great choice for definition essays.

Get your inspiration flowing with these out-of-the-box concepts:

  • The Role of Government
  • Exploring Political Ideologies
  • The Origins of Anarchism
  • The Power of Voting
  • The Impact of Social Movements
  • Political Activism and Protesting
  • Exploring the Influence of Money on Politics
  • Election Campaigns and Strategies
  • The Role of Media in Politics
  • Globalization and Its Impact on Politics

Pick any one of these topics to explore how politics shapes our lives in a variety of ways.

Definition Essay Topics on Philosophy

Philosophy is a great topic to discuss. It can cover a wide range of topics from the meaning of life to morality and ethics. Writing about this subject can be both interesting and thought-provoking.

These are some brilliant ideas to get you started:

  • Exploring Different Religious Beliefs
  • The Meaning of Life
  • The Role of Ethics in Society
  • Examining the Nature of Truth
  • Exploring Different Philosophical Schools
  • The Power of Reason and Logic
  • The Impact of Philosophy on Education
  • Exploring Morality and Its Consequences
  • Discussing the Principles of Freedom

To explore different philosophical views and their impact, choose any one of these topics and write an engaging essay.

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Definition Argument Essay Topics

Argumentative essays require you to pick a side of an argument and defend it. These topics will help you explore the definition of arguments and develop strong writing skills.

  • Pros and cons of using the internet in schools
  • What does it mean to have two sides to the picture?
  • Importance of the death penalty 
  • Causes and effects of alcoholism
  • Why do people do drugs, and how do they get influenced?
  • What do pro-choice and pro-life stand for?
  • Causes and Effects of Global Warming
  • What is cloning? Is it ethical?
  • What is patriotism?  
  • Racial segregation 

These topics will help you understand the dynamics of arguments and how to form your own opinion on a certain subject.

Extended Definition Essay Topics 

Extended definition essays allow you to expand on a concept or idea. These topics will give you the opportunity to explore various definitions, as well as think outside of the box:

  • What is a healthy weight?
  • What is a balanced diet?
  • Measures of punishment parents should take 
  • Differences between self-development and self-management. 
  • How does the FBI violate the basic rights of the citizens?
  • How badly do coaches influence the performance of a player?
  • Define the term frenemy 
  • Characteristics that make a person selfish
  • How to cope with laziness?
  • Is bravery the same as courage?

You can also use these topics to explore the creative writing process by crafting your own unique definition of a topic.

Funny Definition Essay Topics

Writing about humorous topics can allow you to explore the lighter side of life. These ideas can help you create an essay that is sure to get a laugh:

  • What are dreams? Do animals also dream?
  • Is the customer always right?
  • How to get fewer photographs?
  • Should successful business people help those who are new in business?
  • Define the best holiday
  • What is fun for you?
  • Is money a source of happiness
  • What is contemporary art to you? 
  • Why do we not feel that the earth is moving?
  • Is watching tv a way to relax?

These topics will bring a smile to your reader's faces and make them think about the lighter side of life. 

Controversial Definition Essay Topics 

Controversial topics can help stimulate the discussion, as well as make your essay stand out. These ideas should be used to explore controversial notions and discuss different opinions on a certain topic:

  • What is a thesis statement? 
  • What is multiculturalism?
  • Who is a hero?
  • What is Feminism? 
  • What is being lazy? Is it a good trait? 
  • Smartphones Vs. traditional cellular phones 
  • Gothic romanticism 
  • How can bravery be defined?
  • What is passion?
  • What is cultural diversity?

These topics will help you explore controversial notions, as well as think critically about the issues surrounding them. Writing on these topics can be an interesting and thought-provoking experience. 

Abstract Definition Essay Topics

Abstract definition essay topics help to explore concepts that are too abstract for a traditional definition essay.

These topics will allow you to think outside the box and go beyond conventional ideas:

  • What is wisdom, and how is it different from knowledge?
  • What is trust, and how to win it?
  • Does honesty mean always telling the truth?
  • How can generosity be defined? 
  • How can poverty be eradicated?
  • Are Europeans civilized? 
  • How are sweets better than fruits?
  • Is it possible for humans to live without the internet?
  • How to quit drinking? 
  • How will you define the term freedom?

The abstract definition essay topics discussed will help you explore complex concepts and go beyond surface-level definitions. 

Definition Essay Structure

When it comes to writing a definition essay, there is a standard structure that you must follow.

The main steps for writing a definition essay are:

  • Introduction - Introduce your topic and provide brief background information
  • Definition – Give the definition of the term
  • Body Paragraphs – Support your definition with examples
  • Conclusion – Summarize your essay and restate the definition

By following this simple structure, you can write an effective definition essay that will engage your reader.

Steps to Write Definition Essay

To write a great definition essay, you should follow these steps:

  • Select a Term – Choose the term that you want to define. Make sure it is complex enough for an in-depth discussion.
  • Research Your Topic – Gather information from reliable resources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, or even interviews with experts.
  • Structure Your Essay – Create an outline for your essay to ensure it has a logical flow. Check all necessary parts are included.
  • Write Your Introduction – Introduce the term you will be defining and provide brief background information on the subject.
  • Give the Definition – Provide a clear and concise definition of the term.
  • Support Your Definition – Use examples and evidence to support your definition.
  • Write a Conclusion – Summarize your essay and restate the definition.

By following these steps, you can write an effective definition essay that will provide readers with a clear understanding.

Need help with definition essay outline ? Our blog is here to provide some insight and guidance!

Tips on How to Write a Definition Essay?

Writing a definition essay can be tricky, but here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose a concept first: Start by selecting the word that you want to define and use it throughout your essay.
  • Do proper research: Research on the chosen word in order to have a full understanding of its meaning and different interpretations. Use reliable sources such as dictionaries, research papers and published articles.
  • Create an outline: Map out the structure of your essay by organizing your ideas in an outline. This will help you determine what points to include in your paper and where to place them for maximum effect.
  • Introduce the term: At the beginning of your essay, provide a clear and concise definition of the term. This should be followed by a brief explanation of your points in relation to the word or concept.
  • Support your claims: Include evidence from credible sources to back up the claims.
  • Conclude with a summary: Provide a clear and concise summary of your essay. This should include a restatement of the term and its definition.
  • Proofread and edit: Ensure that your essay is free from any errors by proofreading and editing it before submitting it. This will help to improve the quality of your writing and make for a more enjoyable reading experience.

Following these tips can help you write an effective definition essay. It provides meaningful insights into its various interpretations.

To wrap it all,

Writing a definition essay or all other essays in academic life is essential. If you wish to achieve good grades, make sure your essays are high-quality , well-drafted, and structured.

If you doubt y our writing skills and have no clue where to start, get professional help. At, our qualified subject experts offer the best definition essay writing service , providing 100% customized essays written from scratch.

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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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arguing definition essay topics

  • Definitional Argument Essay

For a definitional essay, you need to write an argument that a borderline or contested case fits (or does not fit) within a particular category by classifying that particular case and defining the category.

Definitional arguments require a definition of key terms:

Example: Joe is too bossy.

Define “bossy” and provide examples of his bossy attitude (poor listening skills, shouting at people, making decisions without asking committee—these are what define “bossy” in your argument.

Example : Low-carb diets are dangerous.

Define what constitutes “low-carb” and define what you mean by “dangerous.” Cite studies showing harmful effects, how substances affect the body, etc.

Criteria-Match Structure:

The criteria section of your argument explains and illustrates your criteria.

The match section of your argument persuades the reader that your example meets those criteria.

Example: Although the Hercules Shoe Company is nonpolluting and provides a socially useful product, [CLAIM] it is not a socially responsible company [BECAUSE CLAUSE] because it treats its workers unjustly.

Criteria Part: What points must be met for a company to be deemed “socially responsible”?

  • (1) Research how others have defined your term (dictionaries, judicial opinions, expert testimony, etc.
  • (2) Use your own critical thinking to make your own extended definition.

Match Part : In what ways does the shoe company meet those points?

  • (1) Supply examples of how this and other situations meet your criteria.
  • (2) Give other evidence about how your example meets your criteria.

For your Definitional Argument Essay :

  • introduce the issue and state the claim
  • define key terms
  • present your first criterion and argument that your case meets your definition
  • present your second criterion and argument that your case meets your definition
  • present your third criterion and argument that your case meets your definition (if necessary)
  • anticipate and respond to possible objections/arguments
  • conclude with return to the “big picture,” what is at stake, why your argument is important, etc.

Definitional Argument Essay Proposal

  • What vague or arguable term, phrase, or situation are you defining?
  • What scenario are you going to use to introduce your claim?
  • What is your first (1) criterion and (2) argument that your case meets your definition?
  • What is your second (1) criterion and (2) argument that your case meets your definition?
  • What is your third (1) criterion and (2) argument that your case meets your definition?
  • What are your (1) anticipated objections/arguments and (2) responses to them?
  • How will you conclude with return to the “big picture,” what is at stake, why your argument is important, etc?
  • Definition Argument. Provided by : Martin's College English. Located at : . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-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

  • How to Write a Definition 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

50 Argumentative Essay Topics

Illustration by Catherine Song. ThoughtCo. 

  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

An argumentative essay requires you to decide on a topic and take a position on it. You'll need to back up your viewpoint with well-researched facts and information as well. One of the hardest parts is deciding which topic to write about, but there are plenty of ideas available to get you started.

Choosing a Great Argumentative Essay Topic

Students often find that most of their work on these essays is done before they even start writing. This means that it's best if you have a general interest in your subject, otherwise you might get bored or frustrated while trying to gather information. (You don't need to know everything, though.) Part of what makes this experience rewarding is learning something new.

It's best if you have a general interest in your subject, but the argument you choose doesn't have to be one that you agree with.

The subject you choose may not necessarily be one that you are in full agreement with, either. You may even be asked to write a paper from the opposing point of view. Researching a different viewpoint helps students broaden their perspectives. 

Ideas for Argument Essays

Sometimes, the best ideas are sparked by looking at many different options. Explore this list of possible topics and see if a few pique your interest. Write those down as you come across them, then think about each for a few minutes.

Which would you enjoy researching? Do you have a firm position on a particular subject? Is there a point you would like to make sure to get across? Did the topic give you something new to think about? Can you see why someone else may feel differently?

50 Possible Topics

A number of these topics are rather controversial—that's the point. In an argumentative essay, opinions matter and controversy is based on opinions, which are, hopefully, backed up by facts.   If these topics are a little too controversial or you don't find the right one for you, try browsing through persuasive essay and speech topics  as well.

  • Is global climate change  caused by humans?
  • Is the death penalty effective?
  • Is our election process fair?
  • Is torture ever acceptable?
  • Should men get paternity leave from work?
  • Are school uniforms beneficial?
  • Do we have a fair tax system?
  • Do curfews keep teens out of trouble?
  • Is cheating out of control?
  • Are we too dependent on computers?
  • Should animals be used for research?
  • Should cigarette smoking be banned?
  • Are cell phones dangerous?
  • Are law enforcement cameras an invasion of privacy?
  • Do we have a throwaway society?
  • Is child behavior better or worse than it was years ago?
  • Should companies market to children?
  • Should the government have a say in our diets?
  • Does access to condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
  • Should members of Congress have term limits?
  • Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
  • Are CEOs paid too much?
  • Should athletes be held to high moral standards?
  • Do violent video games cause behavior problems?
  • Should creationism be taught in public schools?
  • Are beauty pageants exploitative ?
  • Should English be the official language of the United States?
  • Should the racing industry be forced to use biofuels?
  • Should the alcohol drinking age be increased or decreased?
  • Should everyone be required to recycle?
  • Is it okay for prisoners to vote (as they are in some states)?
  • Is it good that same-sex couples are able to marry?
  • Are there benefits to attending a single-sex school ?
  • Does boredom lead to trouble?
  • Should schools be in session year-round ?
  • Does religion cause war?
  • Should the government provide health care?
  • Should abortion be illegal?
  • Are girls too mean to each other?
  • Is homework harmful or helpful?
  • Is the cost of college too high?
  • Is college admission too competitive?
  • Should euthanasia be illegal?
  • Should the federal government legalize marijuana use nationally ?
  • Should rich people be required to pay more taxes?
  • Should schools require foreign language or physical education?
  • Is affirmative action fair?
  • Is public prayer okay in schools?
  • Are schools and teachers responsible for low test scores?
  • Is greater gun control a good idea?
  • Preparing an Argument Essay: Exploring Both Sides of an Issue
  • Controversial Speech Topics
  • Tips on How to Write an Argumentative Essay
  • Bad Essay Topics for College Admissions
  • 25 Essay Topics for American Government Classes
  • Topic In Composition and Speech
  • MBA Essay Tips
  • How to Write a Solid Thesis Statement
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay or Speech
  • 61 General Expository Essay Topic Ideas to Practice Academic Writing
  • 40 Writing Topics for Argumentative and Persuasive Essays
  • Expository Essay Genre With Suggested Prompts
  • Middle School Debate Topics
  • Topical Organization Essay
  • Supporting Detail in Composition and Speech
  • Writing an Opinion Essay

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7.3: Definition Arguments

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What is a definition argument?

A research-based argument may have as its goal to describe the nature of something, whether it be an abstract concept like justice, a historical event, or an ongoing trend. Definition arguments like this are arguments because they seek to shape our vision of reality. We can think of them as answering the question "What is it?"

A library of books, with the word "definition" in the center.

Definition arguments may attempt to explain what is meant by a particular term. Take the following claim:

Organic, in terms of food, means plants and animals raised without additives or artificial growing conditions.

The argument here hinges upon understanding the definition of the word “organic.” In this case, organic is the subject of the argument. The claim goes on to base the argument on definition criteria. The claim states that two definition criteria of “organic” are “raised without additives” and “raised without artificial growing conditions.” "What do they mean by ‘artificial’?” If you find yourself questioning other terms used in the claim, that might mean your argument will need to dedicate a paragraph or more to defining those terms. An extended argument on organic food would need to explain in detail what distinguishes artificial growing conditions from natural ones. Can greenhouse-grown food be organic?  In such a situation, it may benefit the argument to offer the dictionary definition of “organic” as a way to confirm that writer and the readers’ assumptions are the same.  

There are a number of online dictionaries that student authors can derive a definition from, but should the writer wish to ensure trust (ethos) with the audience, the source of the dictionary definition might matter.  The site offers this definition for “organic”:

Organic: pertaining to, involving, or grown with fertilizers or pesticides of animal or vegetable origin, as distinguished from manufactured chemicals” (“organic”).

Readers who respect the history and legacy of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) might consider its definition more credible. Considered the most definitive and complete dictionary available, the OED offers differentiated definitions of different uses of the word.  In the case of “organic,” we’d need to look at sub-definition 8c to find one that works for our purposes:

Organic: of food: produced without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.

A definition argument can put a more specific subject into a category based on criteria, as in the following:

Though it omits hormones and antibiotics, organic ice cream remains unhealthy because it contains high levels of fat and sugar, while offering little nutritional value.

Here we have a subject – organic ice cream – and a category – unhealthy. Presumably, unhealthy things often contain similar criteria – high levels of fat and sugar, low nutritional value, and industrial additives. Organic ice cream might not contain industrial additives, but, because it meets the other two criteria, it can still be considered unhealthy. A good way to test your thesis is to try out examples to see if the criteria work to distinguish things that fit the category from things that don't. Are other things we consider unhealthy full of sugar and/or fat, low in nutrition, and made with industrial additives? Yes. Fast food hamburgers are unhealthy because they contain high levels of fat, low nutritional value, and are full of chemical preservatives.

Definition arguments will need to provide evidence for any generalizations they make about a subject. If they use a specific example, how can they show that the example is typical ? They may also need to justify the choice of criteria for the definition. If we argue that the Vietnam War should not be considered a "World War" even though it involved two global superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, we will need to explain why a criterion like the number of deaths should be considered more important than the number or size of the countries involved.

The benefits of definition

Once we understand the value of definition for clarifying terms in an essay, we can start to appreciate the value of definition in shaping an argument, especially one centered around a contentious term. When controversy revolves around an issue, defining terms explicitly and precisely is even more critical.  In Section 4.2: Check If the Meaning Is Clear , we saw how mixing different meanings of one term can disguise a problem with the logic of an argument (if this is done intentionally, it is called equivocation ). A definition argument can help avoid this kind of slippage, and it can clarify where disagreements lie.  Even if it doesn't resolve the disagreements, it may at least prevent misunderstandings.

One example lies in the definition of "life" in the abortion debate.  Those on the pro-life side argue "life" is defined by the initial meeting of sperm and egg, and the subsequent division of cells. On the other hand, those on the pro-choice side often argue that "life" is determined by autonomy, by the fetus's ability to survive outside the womb, and this, generally, is possible at twenty-four weeks.  Prior to that, the fetus is fully dependent for survival upon the security of the woman's womb. 

To take another example, let's say the government decides to allow health insurance providers to exclude coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions.  The question then arises, what precisely does constitute a preexisting condition?  Any diagnosis of cancer, including minor skin cancers?  Diabetes? Obesity? Hypertension?  Consider how many of our friends and family members have been diagnosed with any of these conditions. 

Laws rely on definitions.  Many of us are familiar with the purpose of Title IX, which ensured that equal funding should be applied for both male and female athletic programs in schools.  However, with the recognition of transgender students and their rights, the U.S. Department of Education offered a statement of clarification to the language of Title IX: “explaining that it will enforce Title IX's prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex to include: (1) discrimination based on sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination based on gender identity” (“Title IX”).  Schools, students, and parents can now point to this language in debates about who is protected by Title IX status, and who can be included in the funding of gender-specific sports teams.  Legal definitions often depend upon qualifiers, as in the case of the gun debate.  Many on the pro-gun rights argument will not extend the definition of guns to include fully automatic guns; thus, they will often only agree with new gun restrictions that exclude AR 47s from such regulations. 

Definitions involve emotional associations as well as descriptions of literal meaning. Public opinion can be swayed by casting a person involved in a very public event as "famous" or "infamous," a term that has decidedly negative connotations.  In the case of Trayvon Martin, a young black man who was shot by George Zimmerman, a white man, Martin was defined alternately as a "boy in a hoodie" or as a "potential thug."  And Zimmerman was defined as "a neighborhood watch leader" or "private citizen" by some, and a "vigilante" by others.  In each case, the label implies a definition of the person and his behavior, and this extends the impression built in the mind of the audience.

St rategies for definition

Referring to existing definitions .

A dictionary definition can be helpful if the term under consideration is new or very unusual or uncommon, words which readers may be unfamiliar with, or whose definitions may have become obscured with modern use.  If an argument takes the position that reduced literacy rates in freshman college students makes them less apt to learn from a professor who leans toward sesquipedalian speech, yet, such speech is exactly the challenge these students need to pull them away from their social media feeds and engage them in the vigorous mental workout that academia provides, the author is more likely to earn the trust of the audience if a dictionary definition is provided for this uncommon and archaic word: words that are a foot and a half long (O.E.D.).

Identifying emotional associations (connotations) 

Emotional associations offer the various levels of meaning a word may have.  For example, love can have several variants, such as platonic love, romantic love, familial love, passionate love, self-love, and even more specific ones, such as spirituality, philanthropy, humanity, nationalism/patriotism, and agapé , and each carries its own emotional tone which informs the definition.  The essay "What is Poverty" offers multiple connotations of poverty through the numerous illustrations.

Defining a term based on what it’s not (negation)

Sometimes complex words are best explained by what they are not, specifically by contrasting the word to another term.  Needs are often confused with wants, but needs are anything necessary for survival.  For example, people often say "I need a vacation," when what they really mean is, "I want a vacation."  You may want coffee, but you need water.  You may want a new car, but a used one may suit your needs .  In an article about sexual predators, Andrew Vachss says that when he tells people about the individuals he prosecutes for abuse against children, people often say, "that's sick."  But he clarifies that there is a difference between "sick" and "evil."  A mother who hears voices in her head telling her to lock her baby in a closet is sick.  A man who sells a child to pornographers is evil.  "Sickness," he says, "is the absence of choice," while evil is the volition, the awareness of choice, and the intentional choice to commit a sinister act (Vachss).

Creating an original definition (stipulation)

This use of definition asks the reader to accept an alternate definition from the standard or commonly accepted one.  This is usually the best way to utilize definition in an essay, as it allows the author the freedom to put his or her own spin on a key term.  But the author must do it responsibly, providing supportive examples.  For example, many young people believe that true parental love is the willingness to do anything at all for a child.  However, real love isn't expressed by doormat behavior.  A parent who does his child's homework so the child receives all "A" grades isn't demonstrating love { note the use of negation here }.  Rather, true parental love is the willingness to apply fair rules and limits on behavior in order to raise a child who is a good worker, a good friend, and a good citizen.

Elaborating on a definition (extended definition)

There is no rule about how long a definition argument should be. When a simple one-line definition will not suffice, writers can develop a multi-paragraph, multi-page or multi-chapter definition argument.  For example, a newspaper article might explore at length what is meant by the phrase "cancel culture."  An entire book each might be needed to explain what is meant by the following terms: "critical race theory," "microagression," "gender identity," "fascism," or "intersectionality." When the concept under examination is complex, contentious, or weighted by historical examples and emotional connotations, an extended definition may be needed.

Sample definition arguments

This sample outline for an essay titled "When Colleges Talk about Diversity, Equity, and Antiracism, What Do They Mean?"  shows the structure of one definition argument.

The student essay "Defining Stereotypes" by Imanol Juarez can serve as another example. Annotations on this essay point out how Juarez uses several definition argument strategies.    

  • Sample definition essay "Defining Stereotypes" in PDF version with margin notes
  • Sample definition essay "Defining Stereotypes" accessible version with notes in parentheses . 

Practice Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

How are attitudes to gender changing in today’s society?  Come up with a definition argument you think has some validity about a current trend related to gender.  What kind of evidence could be gathered to support this claim?  How would you convince readers that this evidence is typical? You could choose one of the claims below or invent your own.

  • People today still associate femininity with weakness and masculinity with strength.
  • Women are still more nurturing than men.
  • Teenagers today see gender as a spectrum.
  • Cisgender people still fear transgender people.

Practice Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

Construct a definition with criteria for one of the following terms, or another term of your choice related to gender.  Feel free to research the terms to get ideas. Possible terms: masculine, feminine, androgynous, macho, femme, butch, manly, womanly, machista, metrosexual, genderqueer, third gender, transgender.

Practice Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

Choose one of the following articles.  Which of the definition strategies listed in this section can you identify in the argument?  Can you think of any other strategies the author might have used?

  •   "The True Meaning of the Word 'Cisgender'"  by Dawn Ennis in  The Advocate
  • "The Definition of Terrorism" by Brian Whitaker in  The Guardian


  • Parts of the above are written by Allison Murray and Anna Mills.
  • Parts are adapted from the Writing II unit on definition arguments through Lumen Learning , authored by Cathy Thwing and Eric Aldrich, provided by Pima Community College and shared under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Essay Assignment: Argument of Definition

Writing assignment.

Definition is a challenging rhetorical mode.  Writing definitions, one might be asked to challenge a widely accepted definition, create a controversial definition, or try to figure out if something fits an existing definition.  For this assignment, I will require you to find at least two outside sources.

Using at least two library database, book, or ebook sources other than reference works or dictionaries, write a three-page (not counting the Works Cited) definition of a term or phrase in one of the following topics:

A) How has Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm altered the meaning of the Star Wars franchise?

B) Since Babilonia’s essay “The Celebrity Chef” has been written, argue for an expanded definition of the celebrity chef. With what added duties, concerns, activities does the contemporary celebrity chef concern herself?  (Don’t use my last sentence’s wording in your essay.)

C) Using several examples, define the ideal video game protagonist (hero or heroine). You may not reuse any sources, ideas, or examples from Essay 1.

D) Write an essay analyzing how conventional definitions of good and evil are called into question in O’Connor’s story “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

E) Write an essay explaining how a group of workers you have observed, blue-collar or otherwise, appeared to understand and define some important aspect of their work. Refer in detail to individual members of the group and what they had to say. (Their ideas can be cited as personal interviews.)

F) Write a definition of Voodoo outlining the origins and traditional beliefs of this religion or cult. (Which is it, by the way? A good definition should explain.)  Remember that facts which aren’t common knowledge would get cited, and so would used patterns of source thinking.

Narrow your focus so your definition is more specific than “defining chefs.”  Include a thesis claim about the word being defined.

Write to argue, since you’re redefining a term readers believe they know.  Convince us that your claims about the definition are valid.  Your readers have a familiarity with the topics.  Do not retell them.  We’re not “proving” how _____ works, either!  Avoid the pitfall of writing an editorial or summarizing blandly.  What does the word argue?

Your instructor and classmates are your audience, as with Essay 1.

Additional Information

You may not use definitions in your introduction.  (Also, any cited definitions need quotes around used words—something a lot of writers neglect.)  No wikis are allowed.

Decide whether your essay will expand, reduce, or alter the meaning of a term .  You can adopt a surprising number of strategies for an argument of definition.  You will argue that your definition is the most valid one.  This means you are competing with other definitions.  Some writers try and expand our accepted definition while others attempt to limit a definition’s applications.

Here are some techniques you might use:

  • Illustration
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Negation (saying what something is not)
  • Explanations of a process (how something is measured or works)
  • Identifications of causes or effects
  • Simile, metaphor, or analogy
  • Reference to authority
  • Reference to the writer’s or others’ personal experience or observation
  • Etymology (word origins)

Don’t Forget. . .

  • Avoid the overuse of I or you .
  • Only papers in MLA format are accepted. Arial and Times are accepted fonts.
  • Anticipate problems when you narrow the topic. Sharpen your focus so that you can do a three-page paper on the topic—it’s not a book or a one-page essay, either.  A paper that floats around in a topic too big for it receives a poor grade.
  • Focus on connotations (readers would bring) and denotations (dictionary definitions). These often clash or reveal boundaries of definitions.
  • Close non-examples are ways of bringing focus to an argument of definition.
  • If you use examples, make sure they connect to the definition and aren’t just used for shock effect.
  • Essay Assignment: Argument of Definition. Authored by : Joshua Dickinson. Provided by : Jefferson Community College. Located at : . Project : Arguing Through Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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130 New Prompts for Argumentative Writing

Questions on everything from mental health and sports to video games and dating. Which ones inspire you to take a stand?

arguing definition essay topics

By The Learning Network

Note: We have an updated version of this list, with 300 new argumentative writing prompts .

What issues do you care most about? What topics do you find yourself discussing passionately, whether online, at the dinner table, in the classroom or with your friends?

In Unit 5 of our free yearlong writing curriculum and related Student Editorial Contest , we invite students to research and write about the issues that matter to them, whether that’s Shakespeare , health care , standardized testing or being messy .

But with so many possibilities, where does one even begin? Try our student writing prompts.

In 2017, we compiled a list of 401 argumentative writing prompts , all drawn from our daily Student Opinion column . Now, we’re rounding up 130 more we’ve published since then ( available here as a PDF ). Each prompt links to a free Times article as well as additional subquestions that can help you think more deeply about it.

You might use this list to inspire your own writing and to find links to reliable resources about the issues that intrigue you. But even if you’re not participating in our contest, you can use these prompts to practice the kind of low-stakes writing that can help you hone your argumentation skills.

So scroll through the list below with questions on everything from sports and mental health to dating and video games and see which ones inspire you to take a stand.

Please note: Many of these prompts are still open to comment by students 13 and up.

Technology & Social Media

1. Do Memes Make the Internet a Better Place? 2. Does Online Public Shaming Prevent Us From Being Able to Grow and Change? 3. How Young Is Too Young to Use Social Media? 4. Should the Adults in Your Life Be Worried by How Much You Use Your Phone? 5. Is Your Phone Love Hurting Your Relationships? 6. Should Kids Be Social Media Influencers? 7. Does Grammar Still Matter in the Age of Twitter? 8. Should Texting While Driving Be Treated Like Drunken Driving? 9. How Do You Think Technology Affects Dating?

10. Are Straight A’s Always a Good Thing? 11. Should Schools Teach You How to Be Happy? 12. How Do You Think American Education Could Be Improved? 13. Should Schools Test Their Students for Nicotine and Drug Use? 14. Can Social Media Be a Tool for Learning and Growth in Schools? 15. Should Facial Recognition Technology Be Used in Schools? 16. Should Your School Day Start Later? 17. How Should Senior Year in High School Be Spent? 18. Should Teachers Be Armed With Guns? 19. Is School a Place for Self-Expression? 20. Should Students Be Punished for Not Having Lunch Money? 21. Is Live-Streaming Classrooms a Good Idea? 22. Should Gifted and Talented Education Be Eliminated? 23. What Are the Most Important Things Students Should Learn in School? 24. Should Schools Be Allowed to Censor Student Newspapers? 25. Do You Feel Your School and Teachers Welcome Both Conservative and Liberal Points of View? 26. Should Teachers and Professors Ban Student Use of Laptops in Class? 27. Should Schools Teach About Climate Change? 28. Should All Schools Offer Music Programs? 29. Does Your School Need More Money? 30. Should All Schools Teach Cursive? 31. What Role Should Textbooks Play in Education? 32. Do Kids Need Recess?

College & Career

33. What Is Your Reaction to the College Admissions Cheating Scandal? 34. Is the College Admissions Process Fair? 35. Should Everyone Go to College? 36. Should College Be Free? 37. Are Lavish Amenities on College Campuses Useful or Frivolous? 38. Should ‘Despised Dissenters’ Be Allowed to Speak on College Campuses? 39. How Should the Problem of Sexual Assault on Campuses Be Addressed? 40. Should Fraternities Be Abolished? 41. Is Student Debt Worth It?

Mental & Physical Health

42. Should Students Get Mental Health Days Off From School? 43. Is Struggle Essential to Happiness? 44. Does Every Country Need a ‘Loneliness Minister’? 45. Should Schools Teach Mindfulness? 46. Should All Children Be Vaccinated? 47. What Do You Think About Vegetarianism? 48. Do We Worry Too Much About Germs? 49. What Advice Should Parents and Counselors Give Teenagers About Sexting? 50. Do You Think Porn Influences the Way Teenagers Think About Sex?

Race & Gender

51. How Should Parents Teach Their Children About Race and Racism? 52. Is America ‘Backsliding’ on Race? 53. Should All Americans Receive Anti-Bias Education? 54. Should All Companies Require Anti-Bias Training for Employees? 55. Should Columbus Day Be Replaced With Indigenous Peoples Day? 56. Is Fear of ‘The Other’ Poisoning Public Life? 57. Should the Boy Scouts Be Coed? 58. What Is Hard About Being a Boy?

59. Can You Separate Art From the Artist? 60. Are There Subjects That Should Be Off-Limits to Artists, or to Certain Artists in Particular? 61. Should Art Come With Trigger Warnings? 62. Should Graffiti Be Protected? 63. Is the Digital Era Improving or Ruining the Experience of Art? 64. Are Museums Still Important in the Digital Age? 65. In the Age of Digital Streaming, Are Movie Theaters Still Relevant? 66. Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse? 67. What Stereotypical Characters Make You Cringe? 68. Do We Need More Female Superheroes? 69. Do Video Games Deserve the Bad Rap They Often Get? 70. Should Musicians Be Allowed to Copy or Borrow From Other Artists? 71. Is Listening to a Book Just as Good as Reading It? 72. Is There Any Benefit to Reading Books You Hate?

73. Should Girls and Boys Sports Teams Compete in the Same League? 74. Should College Athletes Be Paid? 75. Are Youth Sports Too Competitive? 76. Is It Selfish to Pursue Risky Sports Like Extreme Mountain Climbing? 77. How Should We Punish Sports Cheaters? 78. Should Technology in Sports Be Limited? 79. Should Blowouts Be Allowed in Youth Sports? 80. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams and Their Fans to Use Native American Names, Imagery and Gestures?

81. Is It Wrong to Focus on Animal Welfare When Humans Are Suffering? 82. Should Extinct Animals Be Resurrected? If So, Which Ones? 83. Are Emotional-Support Animals a Scam? 84. Is Animal Testing Ever Justified? 85. Should We Be Concerned With Where We Get Our Pets? 86. Is This Exhibit Animal Cruelty or Art?

Parenting & Childhood

87. Who Should Decide Whether a Teenager Can Get a Tattoo or Piercing? 88. Is It Harder to Grow Up in the 21st Century Than It Was in the Past? 89. Should Parents Track Their Teenager’s Location? 90. Is Childhood Today Over-Supervised? 91. How Should Parents Talk to Their Children About Drugs? 92. What Should We Call Your Generation? 93. Do Other People Care Too Much About Your Post-High School Plans? 94. Do Parents Ever Cross a Line by Helping Too Much With Schoolwork? 95. What’s the Best Way to Discipline Children? 96. What Are Your Thoughts on ‘Snowplow Parents’? 97. Should Stay-at-Home Parents Be Paid? 98. When Do You Become an Adult?

Ethics & Morality

99. Why Do Bystanders Sometimes Fail to Help When They See Someone in Danger? 100. Is It Ethical to Create Genetically Edited Humans? 101. Should Reporters Ever Help the People They Are Covering? 102. Is It O.K. to Use Family Connections to Get a Job? 103. Is $1 Billion Too Much Money for Any One Person to Have? 104. Are We Being Bad Citizens If We Don’t Keep Up With the News? 105. Should Prisons Offer Incarcerated People Education Opportunities? 106. Should Law Enforcement Be Able to Use DNA Data From Genealogy Websites for Criminal Investigations? 107. Should We Treat Robots Like People?

Government & Politics

108. Does the United States Owe Reparations to the Descendants of Enslaved People? 109. Do You Think It Is Important for Teenagers to Participate in Political Activism? 110. Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16? 111. What Should Lawmakers Do About Guns and Gun Violence? 112. Should Confederate Statues Be Removed or Remain in Place? 113. Does the U.S. Constitution Need an Equal Rights Amendment? 114. Should National Monuments Be Protected by the Government? 115. Should Free Speech Protections Include Self Expression That Discriminates? 116. How Important Is Freedom of the Press? 117. Should Ex-Felons Have the Right to Vote? 118. Should Marijuana Be Legal? 119. Should the United States Abolish Daylight Saving Time? 120. Should We Abolish the Death Penalty? 121. Should the U.S. Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Weapons? 122. Should the U.S. Get Rid of the Electoral College? 123. What Do You Think of President Trump’s Use of Twitter? 124. Should Celebrities Weigh In on Politics? 125. Why Is It Important for People With Different Political Beliefs to Talk to Each Other?

Other Questions

126. Should the Week Be Four Days Instead of Five? 127. Should Public Transit Be Free? 128. How Important Is Knowing a Foreign Language? 129. Is There a ‘Right Way’ to Be a Tourist? 130. Should Your Significant Other Be Your Best Friend?


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    These essays discuss issues around a range of topics, including science, technology, politics, and healthcare. Whether you're a teacher looking for essay topics for your students or a student tasked with developing an idea of your own, we've compiled a list of 50 argumentative essay topics to help you get started!

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    In an argumentative essay, opinions matter and controversy is based on opinions, which are, hopefully, backed up by facts. If these topics are a little too controversial or you don't find the right one for you, try browsing through persuasive essay and speech topics as well. Is global climate change caused by humans? Is the death penalty effective?

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    1. Do Memes Make the Internet a Better Place? 2. Does Online Public Shaming Prevent Us From Being Able to Grow and Change? 3. How Young Is Too Young to Use Social Media? 4. Should the Adults in...

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