A definition argument is when your argument depends on the meaning of a key term or concept, it makes sense to structure your essay as a definition argument. In this type of essay, you will argue that something fits (or does not fit) the definition of a particular class of items.
To make your definitions as clear as possible, avoid making them too narrow, too broad, or circular.
Too narrow: A definition that is too narrow leaves out information that is necessary for understanding a particular word or term. For example, if you define apple as a “red fruit” your definition is too narrow because not all apples are red.
Too broad: A definition that is too broad includes things that should not be part of the definition. If, for example, you define a chair as “something that people sit on,” your definition includes things that are not chairs–stools, park benches, and even tree stumps.
Circular: A circular definition includes the word being defined as part of the definition. For example, if you define patriotism as “the quality of being patriotic”, your definition is circular.
The success of a definition argument depends on your ability to define a term or concept so that readers (even those who do not agree with your position) will see its validity. For this reason, the rhetorical strategies you use to develop your definitions are important.
Here are some possible strategies for writing an extended definition; do not feel compelled to use them all:
Stipulate your precise meaning, but don’t begin with a dictionary definition unless you plan to use it or disagree with it.
Provide examples of the term.
Explain the function or purpose of the term.
Explore the etymology (origin and history of a word). The most fruitful source for such explorations is the Oxford English Dictionary.
Examine connotations of the term.
Discuss what it is not (Negation). Use this sparingly!
For this essay, you will write an essay (1000 Word Minimum) arguing for your definition of happiness.
Your essay must include The Four Pillars of Argument. Here is a suggested outline, but feel free to structure your argument as you see fit.
Thesis: you need to have a strong, good debatable thesis for your definition of happiness. It’s the most important part so your thesis statement, right will be your definition of this term. Once you come up with your own definition o the term happiness, you will be providing some examples of the term. You can talk about the purpose or you can do some research and break the word down in strategies to support your thesis and your essay as a whole. An argumentative essay must have an argumentative thesis- one that takes a firm stand. That is it must have at least two sides, stating a position with which some reasonable people might disagree.
Evidence: facts, observations, expert opinion, examples, statistics, and so on that will support your position. Fact= statements that can be verified (proven to be true) Opinion= always open to debate because it is simply a personal judgment (unsupported opinion or supported opinion)
Refutation= disproving or calling into question arguments that challenge your position, possibly acknowledging the strengths of those opposing arguments and then pointing out their shortcomings.
Concluding statement= End your essay with a strong statement that reinforces your position. (The position that you want readers to remember is the one stated in your thesis, not the opposing arguments that you have refuted.)
Introduction: Establish a context for the argument by explaining the need for defining the term; presents the essay’s thesis.
Evidence (first point in support of thesis): Provides a short definition of the term as well as an extended definition (if necessary)
Evidence (second point in support of thesis): Shows how the term does or does not fit the definition
Refutation of opposing arguments: Addresses questions about or objections to the definition; considers and rejects other possible meanings (if any)
Conclusion: Reinforces the main point of the argument; includes a strong concluding statement.
You will get full points for each part if it:
Focus: Clearly responds to the assignment; demonstrates insight and a sophisticated understanding of the issues; develops a clear, superior thesis
Support and Development: Meaningful and significant support for central idea; specific and original idea details; in-depth development of key points
Organization: Effective paragraph-level and sentence transitions; strong topic sentences; flows smoothly paragraph to paragraph
Mechanics and Word Usage– This is where I want to see those sentence structures!
Virtually free of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar errors; correct and effective word usage
Formatting: Appropriate formatting according to MLA guidelines