Definition Paragraph



To define a word, use a dictionary, a collection of simple definitions, usually including synonyms. The dictionary might define the word banal by using the synonym commonplace. It might also define a word by class.

The American Heritage Dictionary, for example, says that a martini is “A cocktail of gin or vodka and dry vermouth.” A cocktail manual might take this definition further by writing “A Gibson is a martini with an onion instead of an olive.”

Many dictionary definitions include the class to which the word belongs.
Some terms, however, are too complex for simple definitions. To define behavior modification, for example, you would have to write a definition paragraph.

A definition paragraph may elaborate a simple definition by going into more detail about the synonyms and class or subclass to which the term belongs. It may give examples, or it may detail a process. It may even define by negation—by saying what the term is not.
Begin your definition paragraph with the term to be defined, then devote the body of the paragraph to explaining that term.

My strangest job after college was my year and a half apprenticeship at a photo-retouching studio. Most people don’t know that every model in a fashion magazine, every soup can in a magazine ad, even many newspaper photos, are retouched. Before the advent of Photoshop, photo-retouchers, using brushes and paints and dyes and bleaches, did all the work by hand. They might have made small changes, such as darkening the ice cubes and erasing bubbles in a photo of a glass of Coca Cola. Or they might have radically changed a supermodel’s dress size and hair color. I once watched a retoucher shave thirty pounds from a chubby Bette Midler photograph for the cover of her Thighs and Whispers album. This was no easy task—Ms. Midler wore a strapless dress with crepe-like wrinkles. Using chemicals and paint, he had to erase the sides of her body, redraw the sides and the wrinkly dress further in, then extend the orange background to fill in the missing space. He slimmed her fat face too, took frizz out of her ghastly hair, and removed wrinkles and blemishes from her skin. And he had to do this so carefully that the changes were invisible to the human eye, which can pick up minute discrepancies in a photograph. If, for example, the retoucher drew the edge between the dress and the background too sharply, instead of blurring the edge in the manner of real photographs, the average music fan would see the sharpness as quickly as some of us see the face of a burn victim passing on the street. A good retoucher’s work is invisible.

Choose one of the terms below, or choose one of your own, and write a definition paragraph.

A psychiatric disorder, such as autism or ADD.
A job title, such as barista or sauté chef
A philosophy, such as dialectics or epistemology or atheism.
A foreign policy such as unilateralism or détente.
A controversial subject, such as arranged marriage or corporal punishment
A genre or sub-genre of music, such as jazz or bebop.
A lifestyle choice, such childlessness or single motherhood.
An area of expertise or deep knowledge, such as online gaming or EXCEL.


10 comments so far

  1. habib on

    dear sir

    pleasa tell me about paragraph??

    devedition of paragraph?/

    example from paragraph??/

  2. […] The Definition Paragraph – The purpose of a definition paragraph is to tell you what something is or give fact, details, and examples to make a definitoin clear to […]

  3. mohamed on

    phone mobile

  4. mohamed on

    mobile phone

  5. Marie K. Cutler on

    My first job was as an office support clerk at Department of Social Services, when I was 14. I entered data in a mainframe system, sorted and filed documents. Although I was young the program I was recruited under created opportunities for inter city youth at risk. I work really hard and diligent in that position so that I might gain experience and also receive a good work reference for any future jobs. I have been very fortunate since my first job. It has given me great tools and skills that has taken me to each level and beyond.

  6. marven on

    sir can you send me example of a paragraph by definition please!

  7. g.ann claire cagat on

    sir can you send me example of a definition paragraph

  8. elif on

    please give some example by definition paragraph

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