Argument of definition essays are a popular genre in English 101 and English 102 college courses. In an argument of definition essay, you are asked to argue that a term or concept should be defined in a certain way. The definition of words may seem obvious but many terms can have different meanings depending on who is defining them.


Advocates for gay marriage rallying near opponents.

Gay marriage is hot-button issue today, and it is a good topic for an argument of definition essay on marriage. Arguments on both sides of the issue depend on differing definitions of the term "marriage." An argument against gay marriage could be framed as, "Marriage should be defined as union between a man and a woman." Conversely, an argument for gay marriage could be framed as, "Marriage should be defined as a union between two adults who love each other, regardless of their genders."


A high-angle view of a patient communicating with his therapist.

The definition of addiction can be highly controversial. Some people see addiction to drugs and alcohol, among other things, as the product of personal choices that require punishment, while others see it as a disease that should be treated. An argument of definition essay could argue that addiction either should or should not be defined as a disease or that a certain type of behavior (for example, overeating or gambling) either should or should not be defined as an addiction.


Patriots waving flags at a ceremony.

Patriotism is another term for which people can have very different definitions. Some people define patriotism as supporting your country no matter what, while others argue that the definition of American patriotism involves questioning the government and exercising their freedom of speech.

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Ethical Behavior

A contemplative woman thinking while looking out of a window.

What it means to be "ethical" is another topic of controversy. An argument of definition paper could define "ethical" in a specific way. For example, some may argue that being ethical means never lying under any circumstances while other people might argue that lying in certain conditions is ethical, such as when it may save lives.