How to define a definition

Recently we started to write Definition Essays as our latest focus on the Modes of Discourse.

This essay has probably been one of the most difficult ones I’ve written, so far.

How do you write a definition essay? There are so many ways to write one. You can use dictionary definitions, descriptions, history, pictures. There’s no limit.

Photo by Horla Voran, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Horla Voran, Flickr Creative Commons

And that limit scares me.

For me, there’s an ambiguous case for a Definition essay. It’s in between a description essay and a narrative. The funny thing is, I already struggled with keeping a descriptive essay purely descriptive and adding more description into a narrative. And to throw a mix of the 2 at my face is like asking me to bake Napoleon in 1 hour.

In short, it’s not going to happen.

How do you keep a definition essay from having too much description? Or how do you keep it from having too much narrative?

My essay has been through the revision process 3 times now. And still, I’m not seeing a perfectly clear final product.

Do I define an object as my own personal definition, or should I describe it for other people to understand?

I’m going to describe a cupcake. If you know me from my blog I love to bake cupcakes. They’re something I know like the back of my hand.

I wanted to define cupcakes to express how much the little cake could mean to me. And I think that the fact that it has so many definitions is what makes the definition essay difficult.

There are multiple definitions for everything. It depends on your perspective.

“I used to despise cupcakes when I was in elementary school. They were the bane of my existence. Every student brought the sugary, sprinkle covered concoctions into class for their birthday. There were 30 students in my class. For 30 days of the school year, I distastefully, and somewhat politely, delicate licked the gritty cream and took nibbles at the cardboard cake. I hated them for their sweetness and I hated them for their tiny size. I didn’t know that that I would grow to adore the pastry, or that my future was decorated in star-piped swirls.” – Cupcakes

cupcake 2

I’m actually extremely satisfied/proud of this paragraph. Typically, people don’t fall in love with something that they used to hate. I hated cupcakes for most of my life.

Cupcakes are sweet, small, works of art, and they’re hard work.

They’re my favorite thing in the whole word.

I think it’s fitting that when I finish this essay, I publish it here.



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