How to Write Definitions for Specific Circumstances

We’ve established that in order to communicate clearly and effectively, we need to define our terms. Great. Got that out of the way.

We’ve covered what a definition is, and generally how it is formatted with both category and differentiator content. Coolio (which means really great according to Dorian’s nieces and nephews).

Now it’s time to look at how definitions are presented to people in writing. The scholars out there who talk about these things call all of these entries, collectively, terminological entries. And because we couldn’t think of anything easier to call them, that’s what we’ll call them too. We are going to divide terminological entries into three types, from the least formal to the most formal; conversational entries, glossary entries, and custom dictionary entries. Why custom dictionary entries? Simple. We, collectively, aren’t the editors of Webster’s or the Oxford English Dictionary. But we can be editors of other dictionaries, custom dictionaries.

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