Learn How to Write an Extended Definition Essay on Values

Writing Topics and Tips

For more topic suggestions, see Sixty Writing Topics: Extended Definition.

Countless arguments have been waged over conflicting definitions of abstract ideas--in particular, the values that we hold or repudiate. In this assignment, you'll compose an extended definition (with examples) of one particular value (positive or negative) that you consider being especially meaningful in your life. Your primary purpose may be to explain, persuade, or entertain, but in any case be sure to identify and illustrate the essential characteristics of the value you've selected.

Getting Started

Review the observations at the entry for extended definition. Also consider these other definition strategies: negation (explaining what something is by also showing what it's not), comparison and contrast, and analogy.

Next, select one particular value from the list at Sixty Writing Topics: Extended Definition, or come up with a topic of your own. Be sure that you know your topic well and that it genuinely interests you. Also, be prepared to focus and narrow your topic so that you can define and illustrate the value in detail.


In drafting your essay, keep in mind that some of your readers may not share your perspective on the value you've chosen to write about. Try to provide clear explanations backed up with persuasive ​​evidence.

You may write in either the first person (I or we) or third person (he, she, it, they), whichever seems appropriate.


Use the Revision Checklist as a guide. As you revise, work carefully on your introductory paragraph: provide some background information and a focused thesis to let readers know what the essay will be about; at the same time, including the sort of information or examples that will engage the interest of your readers and encourage them to keep reading.
As you revise, make sure that each body paragraph is logically organized. Check your essay for unity, coherence, and cohesion, offering clear transitions from one sentence to the next and from one paragraph to the next.

Editing and Proofreading

Use the Editing Checklist as a guide.

As you edit, check that your sentences have been effectively revised for clarity, variety, conciseness, and emphasis. Also, check that your word choice throughout the essay is precise and appropriate.

Examples of Extended Definitions