A definition explains the meaning of a word. Imagine, you cannot remember a certain word or you use a word that another person does not know. What can you do? Exactly, you can explain what you mean. So it is in fact really handy to know a bit about definitions.

How can I define a word?

Describe (the most common form of definitions)
Think of a more general word and then specify how this term is different from other terms that belong to this group. Example: dog
A more general term? – animal. And how are dogs different from other animals? They bark. So our definition could be:

A dog is an animal that barks.

Name a few examples
Think of typical examples. Example: month
Can you think of any examples for months? – e.g. January, May, December. So our definition could be:

January, May and December are months.

Name the components
Think of the components the term consists of. Example: Irish coffee
What does an Irish Coffee consist of? – coffee, whiskey and sugar. So our definition could be:

An Irish coffee consists of coffee, whiskey and sugar.

Important Grammar Aspects

The tense you usually use for definitions is the simple present (facts in the present). To describe words, relative clauses are quite useful.

Exercises on Definitions

More Exercises on Definitions