The Quick and Easy Guide to Definitions

What Is a Definition?

A definition classifies a term and provides distinguishing characteristics. Terms can be defined either formally or informally.

Formal Definition

A formal definition places a term in a category and identifies its distinguishing features.

Example: Chronometer - a highly accurate timepiece. ("Timepiece" is the category.)

Informal Definition

An informal definition explains the term using a word or phrase as a synonym.

Example: Gray Matter - brain tissue.

Methods of Defining Terms

Sometimes simple definitions suffice. However, definitions may be expanded with details, examples, comparisons or other explanatory devices, including:

Tips for Writing Definitions

The Quick and Easy Guides for Writers

Written By: George Knox © 1999