Qualify Definition Essays

Qualifying Claims


Qualifiers are words like “some” or “many” or “most” or “often” etc that differentiate a fact or claim from concepts such as “all” or “always”.


To qualify a claim means to limit


Qualifiers are essential for two reasons:

a)       They clarify claims to truth and make them more factually accurate.  The claim “smoking causes cancer” is of course factually inaccurate compared to the claim “smoking often causes cancer.”  Even more accurate would be the claim that “heavy long term smoking significantly raises the risk of developing many types of cancer.”

b)      They help us persuade those who disagree with our claim.  When arguing about legalizing marijuana, the claim “marijuana should be legalized” suggests that anyone should be able to smoke it anytime and anywhere, and this is a fairly radical, divisive claim.  The claim that “marijuana should be treated like other recreational drugs such as alcohol” will likely prove more persuasive since it limits the context.  An even easier claim to defend would be “medical marijuana should be legalized and treated similarly to other narcotics, such as opiate and cocaine-based medicines”.


In short, I do well to carefully spell out the specific context of any given claim and to carefully outline any notable exceptions: the smaller the claim, the more likely I can prove it or persuade others to believe it.


Doing so will also make me appear far less dogmatic; we tend not to trust (ethos) those entirely devoted to a single perspective in any debate where there are clearly competing perspectives.  I mean, if you can’t see even part of why your opposition believes what they do, it’s highly unlikely this opposition will ever come over to your side of the argument.



Qualifiers as Concessions


We do well to realize that in most arguments persuasion has more in common with negotiation and mediation than purely factual debate: in reality, in our real lives, the point of persuasion is usually not to “win” but rather to progress and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.  In our professional/occupational, personal and civic lives, we get involved in arguments not for competition but because we are constantly forced to work with people who see a given issue differently than we do, and people who constantly obsess over being “right” tend to make miserable co-workers and worse spouses.


Consider that qualifiers can actually permanently settle one or more of the explicit reasons in any given debate.  If we are arguing whether or not freshman should be required to live on the UI campus, we can easily remove opposition by conceding that this rule will not fit “all” freshmen.  When the opposition offers up the reason that it will violate the rights and needs of a few exceptional students, for religious or psychological reasons etc., rather than debating that point, I do well to simply concede it, qualify my claim to exempt those students, and move on with the debate.


In other words, while debate is about winning, persuasion is largely the art of removing road blocks and working toward agreement.  Qualifiers will move us effectively toward that goal.

What Is a Definition Essay?

A definition essay (see all essay types) is a piece of writing that explains what a term or a concept means. Some terms have definite, concrete meanings, such as glass, book, or tree. Terms such as honesty, honor, or love are abstract and depend more on a person's point of view. 

The term may be evaluated from the direct, or exact meaning and from the point of the subjectivity of the person defining the term. The aim is not only to provide the dictionary definition but also to expound on why the word is defined in such a manner. The approach to be used depends on the subject, your readers, and the essay’s purpose.

3 Steps to a Powerful Definition Essay

When you strat writing a definition essay follow 3 main steps

Step 1: Tell readers what term is being defined.
Step 2: Present clear and basic information.
Step 3: Use facts, examples, or anecdotes that readers will understand.

Choosing Ideas for Writing a Definition Essay

Choosing a definition is a key step in writing a definition essay. You need to understand the term for you to be easy to define it for others. Read the dictionary, but don't just copy the definition. Explain the term's definition briefly in your own words. In addition, it is important to limit your term before you start defining it. For example, you could write forever on the term "love". To limit it, you would write about either "romantic love", "platonic love", or "first love". If you are assigned to write a definition essay here is a great list of definition essay topics:


If the definition essay topics from the list above don't match your assignment and you need another topic for a definition writing feel free to contact our writing service or read an article on How to Pick Proper Essay Topics.

How to Write a Definition Essay: Outline and Format

Definition essay outline format is similar to that of a typical essay and includes several unique characteristics. Typically, it includes introduction, body and conclusion parts. Here is a detailed focus on each section.

Definition Essay: Introduction

Start with one of the various techniques, such as a short anecdote, an extended definition, or some open-ended questions. Your introduction should conclude with a distinct, precise thesis statement that tells your readers just what your essay will be discussing. All body paragraphs directly and clearly support the thesis statement. The thesis statement usually identifies the term being defined and provides a brief, basic definition.

If you are looking for definition essay examples here is a great one below.


Definition Essay: Body Paragraphs

Create a thorough definition. There are several ways to define a term. Here are a few options.

Define by functionExplain what something does or how something works.
Define by a structureTell how something is organized or put together.
Define by analysisCompare the term to other members of its class and then illustrate the differences. These differences are special characteristics that make the term stand out. For example, compare a Siberian husky to other dogs, such as lap dogs, mutts, or sporting dogs.
Define by what the term does not mean

This distinction can sometimes clarify a definition and help a reader to better understand it.

Use understandable facts, examples, or anecdotes. Select facts, examples, or anecdotes to fully explain your definition. Ask yourself, "Which examples will best help readers understand the term? What examples would most appeal to my readers? Will a brief story reveal the term's meaning?" Do not use any examples that will not support the definition.

Definition Essay: Conclusion

Restate the thesis statement in other words. Give an overview of the main points of the paper, referring from the entire body paragraphs. Link back to the attention grabber to conclude your essay.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Powerful Definition Essay Writing:

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