U2: Argument by Definition

Unit overview  |  In this unit, students learn the purpose and use of definition arguments. Students examine a current issue of problem from different viewpoints, learning how writers make and develop definitional arguments, particularly in relation to the types of claims, the evidence, and the warrants. Students also consider the figurative and visual language used to define an issue. To understand the elements of definition and the ways in which those elements work, students compare and contrast two arguments about the same issue, identifying the definitions, figurative language, and visuals for the ways in which the writers define and configure an issue for an audience.

Assigned Reading

  • Chapter 9: Arguments of Definition
  • Chapter 13: Style in Arguments
  • Chapter 14: Visual Arguments
  • Handbook: Grammatical Sentences

Major Assignment  |  Compare and contrast how two different writers define a current issue (4 pages). Students may extend work done in the first unit or instructor may assign a text.

  • The assignment sheet [PDF] [DOC]
  • The rubric [PDF] [DOC]


A 71-year-old objects after NPR refers to her as “elderly”. When did elderly become an objectionable term, and how should news organizations get around it?
Watch the video for a great discussion about the definition of a term.


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