Assignment Checklist
Definition Essay (consult syllabus for due date)
Some argumentative essays take the form of an extended definition. This form of essay is
appropriate when the idea under consideration is so controversial or historically-complex that a
few paragraphs of definition will not suffice. Indeed, getting your audience to understand and
agree with the definition is the argument. In class we will read several examples of these types of
essays and discuss when it is appropriate to write one. From these examples and discussions
you will select a term, idea or concept that you feel needs an extended, clarified or new definition.
You may use a number of techniques to develop your definition, including: personal narrative,
examples, stipulation, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, analogy, expert testimony, etc.
1. Consult Chapter 9 of your text and carefully read the sections on writing an extended
definition essay.
2. Select some key term, concept, idea or phrase that you feel require a new, revised or
extended definition in order to properly understand.
3. Try to find some specific examples of how this phrase has been used to distort or
distract public perception of the event, ideas or policies under discussion.
4. Also, search in specialized search engines such as news servers (Google News,
Yahoo News, Lexus Nexus, Topix.net, etc.) and library databases (Academic Search
Primer, American Newspapers, JSTOR, Legal Collection, Military and Government
Collection, Psychology and Behavioral Science Collection, etc).
5. Consult at least two different dictionaries to see if the definitions of your term or
phrase are present and if they differ significantly from one another.
6. The essay should be roughly organized in the following manner:
A. Introduction (1-2 paragraphs) which lays the foundation for the discussion,
discusses the methodology you will be using to evaluate the term, and introduces
the term under discussion.
B. 1-2 specific examples of the use (and misuse) of the term or phrase (3-4
C. Some expert testimony and educated speculation about the significance this term
or phrase has on public perception and the deeper questions that are covered up
or avoided by it (2-3 paragraphs).
D. A conclusion where you restate your main ideas, offer alternatives for the future,
and/or speculate on the future problems that may arise if we do not change our
perceptions about the term or phrase under discussion (1-2 paragraphs).