Definition of Genealogy

Definition essay

Writing Example


Genealogy can be defined as systematic research done on family history. The word come from the Greek genea, meaning race, and logy, meaning a study. Genealogy involves finding out information about ancestors as far back as possible (when and where each was born, when and where he married, whom he married, when and where he died, what his children were named, when and where they were born, and so on). One usually starts with the parents and then goes to the grandparents and then the great-grandparents and continues going back until no more information is available. In addition to names, dates, and places, other types of data about the lives and personalities of the ancestors is also collected, such as outstanding accomplishments and interesting stories. Although many people associate this kind of study only with the male ancestors, the female ancestors should also be included : the mother, the father’s mother, the mother’s mother. Nieces, nephews, and cousins may or may not researched, depending on whether the person doing the research is interested in them or not and also on whether he has enough time to do them or not.

Learning Points

A definition essay is writing that explains what a term means.  To define is to explain clearly what a word or term means. Defining can take up an entire essay, but most definitions are brief, taking no more than a sentence.
Definitions come in many different forms. The least effective is the one that students most commonly use : quoting the dictionary (“Webster defines freedom as …”). Instead of quoting the dictionary, you can use one or more of the methods listed next :

  • Defining by synonym

In order to define a term, you can simply give a synonym or a word that means approximately the same thing as the word you are defining.
– Apathetic means indifferent.
– Gregarious means sociable.
– Clandestinely means secretly.
– A wraith is a ghost or phantom.
– To elude someone means to keep away from him/her.

  • Defining by class

The class definition is one of the most often required in college and formal writing. All you have to do is to put the term (you want to define) into the class, to which it belongs, and provide some special characteristics that make the term unique and different from all others in the same class.
– An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the eye.
– A dictatorship is a form of government in which one person has absolute control over his/her subjects.
– A college is an institution where students receive higher or professional education.

  • Defining by negation

Once you feel that your readers have a preconceived idea about the term you wish to define, you can use definitions by negation. They can be very fruitful and say that it is not what your readers thought, but it is something else entirely. You often need to use “but” to express that.
– Freedoom of speech is not just a phrase we learn in history class; it is a right guaranteed to each citizen to express his/her beliefs in public.
– College is not a place to have a good time but a place to grow intellectually and emotionally.
– Liberty doesn’t mean having the right to do whatever you please but carries the obligation to respect the rights of others.
– A good parent does not mean just feed and clothe a child but loves, supports, and accepts that child for what he/she is.

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