Anecdotal Essay Definition

Definition Essays: Explaining a Term With Examples, Facts and Anecdotes

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Definition essays define a specific term through explanation. Defined terms can be concrete or abstract. Concrete terms are words like pencil, coffee or fan; abstract terms are words like integrity, honesty or love. When this type of essay defines something abstract, you usually write from your point of view. Before you jump into writing this essay format, make sure you understand the assignment well.

The main components of definition essays

There are three components that dictate what you write in a definition essay:

  • Stating the term that you intend to define
  • Presenting basic information clearly
  • Using examples, facts or anecdotes that are easily understood
  • In addition, any term you select to define in the definition essay should have a complex meaning, possibly mean different things to different people and stay able to be discussed in a meaningful way.

    Choosing the definition for your essay

    While stating the term you intend to define seems pretty straightforward, some words have multiple meanings. The definition is the central point of the essay, so before you can write about it to explain it to your readers, you must first understand the specific meaning. Some words are very broad in definition and lend themselves to creating too broad of a topic. For example, “sleep” is very broad, but you can narrow the definition by defining “sleep deprivation” instead.

    Writing the thesis statement for a definition essay

    In a definition essay, the thesis statement is the term and its definition. It is very simple in nature and consists solely of the term and a very basic definition. Part of developing your thesis revolves around writing an effective definition. There are multiple approaches to defining your selected term:

  • By analysis—compare it to something similar and show differences
  • By function—what it does or how it works
  • By structure—how it is organized or assembled
  • By opposite definition—explain what the term is not
  • Using facts, examples or anecdotes to write the definition essay

    As you define your term more in-depth, select facts, examples or anecdotes you can use to define your term more completely. Considerations you should make while deciding on the best way to define the term include the following:

    • Do certain examples make the term more understandable?
    • Which examples or facts are the most appealing?
    • Can an anecdote best explain the meaning of the term?

    However you decide to explain the term, never use examples, facts or anecdotes that do not support the definition 100 percent.

    Choosing definition essay topics

    You have virtually unlimited choices when it comes to selecting a term to define in this type of essay. However, abstract terms lend the air to more creativity and personal anecdotes. Examples of terms you might choose include the following:

    • Ambition
    • Compassion
    • Funny
    • Kindness
    • Love
    • Respect

    When selecting a term, aim to pick something that you find interesting and something to which you can personally relate. Not only does it make the writing process easier, but it generally makes what you write more interesting. As you wrap up your essay, the final paragraph is often used to share the personal meaning of the word you selected.

    1(of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.

    ‘while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact’

    1. 1.1Characterized by or fond of telling anecdotes.

      ‘her book is anecdotal and chatty’

      • ‘She previews this approach to war in her short, anecdotal work Paris France, written just before Mrs. Reynolds and Wars I Have Seen.’
      • ‘Are we in for a pleasant, anecdotal account of Didion's family connections with a pioneering past, you wonder.’
      • ‘Other exceptional sherpas are given their place in the sun too in a narrative that has no great pretensions to literary skill or scholarship, but is enthusiastic and often wonderfully anecdotal.’
      • ‘He elicited and compared details and wrote up his findings almost immediately in a highly readable, anecdotal narrative style.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, most writings on Katchor emphasize literary and anecdotal content over artistry.’
      • ‘Many of them are anecdotal and the poem, ‘Making Sambar’ could well have been featured as a ‘middle’ on the editorial page of a newspaper.’
      • ‘In a witty, anecdotal and at times serious speech, Pierce said he was the eldest male member of a family of eight - seven boys and a girl.’
      • ‘What he writes about York corresponds uncannily with my memory of what actually happened and includes anecdotal material which I have not seen written down anywhere else.’
      • ‘In the late, anecdotal tradition he is credited with introducing suspension of judgment.’
      • ‘I have quoted part of the petition at length, because its anecdotal and tonal qualities are lost in summary.’
      • ‘The two tropes are geology and archaeology integrated into an anecdotal, memorialising narrative form that demands admiration for its adroitness.’
      • ‘As with most actor commentaries, the former is more light and fluffy and anecdotal, while the latter is more technically-oriented.’
      • ‘The narrative is tangential and anecdotal, a linear mosaic of small failures and smaller successes, interspersed with laugh out loud one-liners.’
      • ‘I suspect that The Edifice Complex is so readable because his scholarly theme, brilliantly researched, is well peppered with anecdotal insights.’
      • ‘I have tried to introduce personal anecdotal narrative into the book because I became very involved in my investigation into the naturopath.’
      • ‘The Trade Center attack will not alter the autobiographical, anecdotal, therapeutic poems of the workshops; it will merely add another subject.’
      • ‘Most of the articles have serious points to make, and only J. T. Bonner's amusing essay largely devoted to his social encounters with Haldane is purely anecdotal.’
      • ‘David Gordon Green and Jamie Bell deliver an amusing and anecdotal commentary, relaying the many misadventures that took place in the production.’
      • ‘Born to Buy would have benefited from more narrative, anecdotal sugar in the form of compelling characters to make the medicine go down.’
      • ‘While anecdotal, the narrative captures what is probably a common experience of those participating in discipline-based PFF programs.’
    2. 1.2(of a painting) depicting small narrative incidents.

      ‘nineteenth century French anecdotal paintings’

      • ‘From elegant trapeze artists to humorous anecdotal scenes of circus life on a shoestring budget, you can see why Camille is tempted to join Petra and run away with the circus.’
      • ‘It is their freedom from the traditional literary, anecdotal, or moralistic associations of painting that has caused him to be regarded as one of the pioneers of modern art.’
      • ‘Schad's graphic work, often anecdotal and illustrational, is evocative of George Grosz but without the muscle.’
      • ‘Over the next 20 years his anecdotal paintings of peasant life, based on a close study of Dutch 17th-century genre painters, were universally admired.’
      • ‘The impeccable and perceptive draughtsman Ingres is represented by one of the anecdotal pictures in which he delighted, The Betrothal of Raphael, and the last of his four versions of Oedipus and the Sphinx.’
      • ‘The film combines anecdotal minimalism with extremely careful attention to the image and the actors - with a single exception, all non-professional.’
      • ‘During the 1940s, Haley began writing short anecdotal sketches about the coastguard, some of which he published in Coronet magazine.’
      • ‘Critics blithely ignorant of its subject matter routinely dismiss western art as purely anecdotal.’

      narrative, full of stories, crammed with incident, packed with incident

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    • ‘Until recently, documentation of elevated cancer rates in the area was limited to such anecdotal accounts.’
    • ‘The evidence so far is anecdotal rather than statistical, but the trend can't be denied, he says.’
    • ‘Historic accounts of this era give no indication of any negative impact to fish populations and in fact, anecdotal accounts reflect quite the opposite.’
    • ‘Much of the information and government decisions concerning goldenseal are based on anecdotal rather than quantitative information on population status.’
    • ‘There is a reliable anecdotal account that, in my opinion, gives a partial answer to the question.’
    • ‘His team culled anecdotal accounts on videoconferencing and case studies of various applications of the technology.’
    • ‘Nursing literature is full of anecdotal accounts of the distant approach that doctors have towards patients and their carers.’
    • ‘Early accounts were mainly anecdotal, reported by clinicians and interpreted mainly as psychodynamic processes occurring during early development.’
    • ‘To date, the social science literature on New Age phenomena has been dominated by case studies and anecdotal accounts.’
    • ‘I have my own theories on this, but they are based purely on anecdotal evidence.’
    • ‘Instead of relying on anecdotal accounts, psychologists could provide better information to assist the resolution of such a case.’
    • ‘This paper therefore is based mainly on my own thoughtful experience and informal anecdotal research.’
    • ‘Theory is paraded as fact, anecdotal accounts as hard data.’
    • ‘Reviewers of manuscripts sometimes reject research because it is anecdotal, based on a case study, or founded on too small a sample and therefore not generalizable.’
    • ‘It is a fluent and largely anecdotal account, which captures the woman and her work most vividly.’
    • ‘Wisely, Shakeshaft does not base her conclusions on evidence that comes so close to anecdotal accounts.’
    • ‘Some effect measurements are based on anecdotal evidence.’
    • ‘In contrast to this scholarly account, the evocatively-entitled Tin Horns and Calico is a lively account, based on anecdotal information and data from private sources.’
    • ‘Having regard to both personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I suspect that the answers to these two questions are YES and NO respectively.’
    • ‘Insights, while not necessarily inaccurate, are frequently based on anecdotal evidence and hence impressionistic.’

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