Education

Types of Definitions Cheat Sheet

Okay, we’ve gone over all of the various types of definitions. You’ll want to keep this cheat sheet around so that you have a shortened version of what should go into each type of definition.

Intensional definitions (genus + differentia)

Begins with the category, or properties and features shared by other concepts or things like it.
Continues with what makes this concept or thing is different than the other members of its category.

Extensional definitions

Lists as many objects, properties, or features as necessary that represent the concept or thing being described.
Explains how those objects, properties, or features fit into a more generalized cate-gory.

Lexical definitions

Begins with the setting, how the term is used in the document(s) it is drawn from, or the audience it is aimed at.

Places that setting into the context of the category, or properties and features shared by other concepts or things like it.

Continues with what makes this concept or thing is different than the other members of its category.

Partitive definitions

Begins by describing this particular concept or thing as a part of a greater whole.

Continues with the category that greater whole fits into.

Adds what makes this concept or thing different than the other parts of the same greater whole.

Functional definitions

Begins by explaining what the concept or thing does.

Continues by explaining how that role fits into a larger category with properties and other functions like it.

Encyclopedic definitions

Begins with the category, or properties and features shared by other concepts or things like it.

Continues with what makes this concept or thing is different than the other members of its category.

Provides additional classification, history, etc. about the concept or thing for elucidation purposes.

Theoretical definitions

Begins with the category, or properties and features shared by other concepts or things like it.

Continues with what makes this concept or thing is different than the other members of its category.

Continues with the theory of why this concept or thing fits into the category or why the differentiators are important.

Continue Reading

Get the Definitions Book

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.