Definition Paragraphs
What is the Purpose?
• To expand a definition by giving further
explanation and examples.
When will you write this type of paragraph?
• As part of an essay, especially in
natural & health sciences and
• As part of a test there may be
questions asking for definitions of terms
What does a successful definition
paragraph look like?
• Topic sentence: Topic (term to be
defined)+ general noun+ an adjective
• Body
– Explanation
– Examples
• Conclusion – refer back to the topic
Example Paragraphs
Cholera is an intestinal infection that can be
described according to its cause, symptoms, and
treatment. A bacterium, called Vibrio cholera, is the
causative agent of cholera. It can be spread
through contaminated food, water, or feces.
Cholera patients may exhibit different symptoms
that can vary from mild to severe. Some symptoms
are diarrhea and loss of water and salts. Oral or
intravenous replacement of fluids and salts as well
as specific antibiotics is a possible treatment for
cholera. Patients can be treated with an oral
rehydration solution or, in severe cases, an
intravenous fluid. Cholera is a serious infection that
can only be resolved with medical intervention.
Example Paragraphs
Canine Teeth
One of the most important types of teeth in the
human mouth is the canines which are the long,
sharp teeth found in the front corners of the upper
and lower rows of teeth, between the incisors and
bicuspids. Because they are long and strong and
deeply rooted, they have several functions. First,
even though canines do not chew food, they guide
the jaw during the chewing process. Second, they
shape the face. They can also serve as anchors for
other teeth when a dentist puts in bridge work. And
finally, as the name "canine" suggests, they work like
the teeth of a dog to cut and tear food-and to bite.
In sum, the purpose of these essential, sharp teeth is
Example Paragraphs
Assertiveness means standing up for your rights --- politely,
but firmly. For example, my friend Teresa is assertive. Once
when we were in a restaurant and her hamburger was well
done instead of rare, Teresa signaled the waiter and nicely
asked if she could return the excellent but well-done burger
for one that was a bit rarer. I braced myself for an argument,
but the waiter just replaced the burger. Another time as we
stood in line for movie tickets, a guy cut in front of Teresa. She
tapped him on the shoulder, smiled, and said, "I see there was
a gap that looked as if it were the end of the line, but it's really
back there." When the guy stared at her and said, "I'll just stay
here. You don't mind, right?" She answered, "Well, yes, I do
mind." She then made sure the people in back of us were
listening and said, "And you're not being fair to all these other
people, either." The guy left. Assertiveness helps you get what
you want and deserve without creating a scene.
Example Paragraphs
According to The American Heritage Dictionary, gossip is
a “trivial rumor of a personal nature,” but this definition makes
gossip sound like an activity that is harmless. At first, gossip
might not seem so bad. One person tells a second person
something about someone, and that second person tells a
third, and so on. The information passes from person to person.
However, gossip is much more than just information and rumor.
As the rumor continues, it grows and changes. People do not
know all the facts. They add information. As gossip goes from
one person to the next, the damage continues, and the
person who is the subject of the gossip can’t do anything to
answer or protect himself or herself. Celebrities and regular
people suffer from the negative effects of gossip. For example,
a current celebrity might lose custody of her children due to
gossip that is currently circulating about her. For these reasons,
gossiping is a bad habit.
Brainstorming Practice
• Fraud (n) - a person who pretends to have
qualities, abilities, etc. that he does not really have
in order to deceive other people
• Xenophobia (n) - (disapproving) a strong feeling of
dislike or fear of people from other countries
Task: Create a topic sentence for one of these words.
Use your own ideas:
Topic+ general noun+ adjective clause.
Or use the quoted definition:
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, topic
is, “…” (or paraphrase the quoted definition).
Brainstorming Practice
Based on your previous choice,
now brainstorm about the topic.
• Fraud (n)- a person who pretends to have
qualities, abilities, etc. that he does not really
have in order to deceive other people
– Explanation?
• Idea One
• Idea Two
– Examples:
• Example One
• Example Two
• Xenophobia (n) –
(disapproving) a strong feeling
of dislike or fear of people from
other countries
•Idea One
•Idea Two
•Example One
•Example Two
In-Class Writing
• Choose one of the following words to define in a
Philanthropist (n) – a rich person who helps the poor and
those in need, especially by giving money
Gravy train (n) – a situation where people seem to be making
a lot of money without much effort
Runaround (v) – to treat someone badly by not telling him the
truth of by not giving him the help of the information he
Nationalism (n) – (sometimes disapproving) a feeling of love
for and pride in your country; a feeling that your country is
better than any other
Fool’s paradise (n) – a state of happiness that is based on
something that is false or cannot last although the happy
person does not realize it
Paradox (n) – a person, thing or situation that has two
opposite features and therefore seems strange
• All definitions are from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s
Provide your brainstorming and completed paragraph
to me by the end of class today.
Example Student Paragraph
According to Heinle’s Dictionary of American English, discrimination
means to treat someone unfairly based on race, sex or religion.
Discrimination is used by people who believe to be better than others.
People who has been discriminated could end up in serious psychological
problems. Discrimination makes people think, that they are not worthy. In
the United States, discrimination was a way to keep black away from their
rights as humans. Black were not allowed to vote. They had to use
different bathrooms then white men, and black children could not go to
school with white children. Discrimination based on sex was known and it is
used by many countries. Also Jews were discriminated because of their
religion, for that reason they came to America in hopes to find freedom.
Even though we live in a new generation, discrimination is not over.
Example Student Paragraph
According to the Intermediate Dictionary of American English, gravity
is the force that causes things to drop to the ground. It is an attractive force,
which is created by the magnetic field between the south pole and the north
pole of the Earth. A good example of void of gravity is the space where
everything floats and has no direction. Gravity is commonly used in
physics; physicists use its mathematical value, which is equivalent to 9.8
meters per second square (9.8m/s2) , to compute problems. Like for
example, gravity is used to measure weight, that is, W=mg where W is the
weight, M is the mass, and g is the gravity constant. It can also used to
compute potential energy, that is U=mgh, where U is the potential energy, g
is the gravity constant, and h is the height of the object from rest. Gravity
makes everything stand on the surface of the earth, and it is one of the most
important elements or force that keeps the balance of the earth. Everything
on the ground is under the pull of gravity.
Problematic Sentences
Discrimination makes people think, that they are not worthy.
Finally, they also a good opportunity in order to be a
successful person.
On that day, thousands has been killed.
It could also cause one to live in fear. Especially, when
others in the outside world doing whatever they want.
Though human nature is selfish, but I know there are
people out there who are just kind for the sake of putting
a smile on someone else’s face.
The freedom is important that all the world need it. The
freedom not just in speech.
In fact, this creat an opportunity to see different types of
animals such as snakes, lions, tigers.