Style - write a definition sentence

Malc Prentice

What is a definition?

The category of your topic (a "classification"), and one unique feature.


TERM is/are CATEGORY LINK are more or less unique in some way
Crabs are large crustaceans which walk sideways
Dogs are domestic animals that were bred from wolves
"Dog" refers to domestic animals which were bred from wolves
Akita is a kind of Japanese Dog , made famous by Hachiko.
Happiness is a form of emotional state caused by eating chocolate
Happiness can be defined as an emotional state which results from eating chocolate
The word "dreich" is a Scottish term which describes cold, grey, dark, miserable weather.

When to use a definition

Happiness is defined here as the emotional state which results from eating chocolate
Happiness is here used to mean a score of 5 or higher on the self-assessment Satisfaction scale
Happiness is operationalised as balance between positive and negative emotion (Ryff, 1989)

Think of it as a reverse quiz question:

A quiz quesion has ONLY ONE possible answer

A good definition defines ONLY ONE thing

Want more examples?

Look at the first sentence of any Wikipedia article - it is a definition.

Gold is a chemical element with symbol Au and atomic number 79.
Paper is a thin material produced by pressing together moist fibres of cellulose pulp
Economics is the social science that describes the factors that determine the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.


1) "Define" does not mean "copy a definition from a dictionary". Do you own research if you have to, and write your OWN definition.

2) Don't define in a boring way. We know what gold is. We know what paper is. Your unique detail must be something we don't know.