Practice Definition Claims

The underlying rhetorical structure of the definition argument is x is/is not y. Review the following examples of definition claims and notice that they are all concerned with saying what something is (or isn't) and assigning it to a category (or excluding it).

Potential Pitfalls

Sometimes a claim can look like a definition claim, but it actually expresses a fact rather than a stand on one side of an argument. All the following examples are statements of fact and are NOT definition claims. It's simply impossible (under ordinary circumstances) to argue about these facts.

Occassionally, students slip out of their definition arguments and into some other kind of argument. The following examples are NOT definition claims.


As you attempt to formulate your own definition claim, ask yourself the following two questions: 1) Is my thesis a definition claim or have I lapsed into some other rhetorical form? 2) Is my thesis arguable? If my thesis is arguable, I should be able to think of reasons why my opponents disagree with it.

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