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Glossary of Essay Writing Terms

Glossary of Essay Writing Terms

  Sometimes every student needs help with his or her essay writing. As an essay writing helper EssayMama's team has decided to create this 'Glossary of Essay Writing Terms for Students' to give you some tools for better writing. This glossary is constantly checking and updating by our team of writers and editors. If you have any suggestions or questions - feel free  to contact us via comments below. Also don't forget to download our Essay Writing Guide.


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
  • Calculate - To compute one section of information in order to draw results or alter the original information in some way. It is seen quite a lot within mathematics and programming where information is computed to draw a retraceable result.
  • Case Study - A record and processed data that is part of research, or used as research, into the development of a group, situation, thing or person over a set period of time. It may also be something analyzed or used to illustrate a principle, point or thesis.
  • Cause and effect essay - An essay that is structured in a way that joins events, thoughts and/or actions and links them in some way. One element is called the cause and the other the effect, with the effect being the result of the cause.
  • CBEP - This is a Community-Based Education Project or Program.
  • Characterization - The addition of motivation to a character or entity of some sort. This may include things such as character history, emotions, situations and personality being mixed to form a fuller character as a whole.
  • Chicago/Turabian style - This is the style guide used for American English.
  • Chronological order - Items or points are ordered according to their timeline. It may be events put in the order they happened, or set against a sequence that is usually based on a linear timeline.
  • Citation - The act of referencing the work of another directly. It means copying or paraphrasing the work of another and using it as evidence. A citation is not credited to the person doing the citing (i.e. it is not the writer idea that is being quoted unless self quoting earlier works).
  • Cite - To draw attention to the creation of another. It is usually done to prove a point. The person doing the citing does not claim ownership of the work that is cited.
  • Clarify - To better explain a certain point. This is sometimes done with examples or the production of further evidence however, it may also include stories and analogies that draw a similar comparison.
  • Classification essay - An essay that opens up a subject and explores it more thoroughly. The idea is to help the reader more fully understand the subject at hand.
  • Cliché - A term or action that is nestled deep within the public zeitgeist to the point where it is considered overused by those that have had experience with it.
  • Cluster Analysis - Cluster analysis or clustering is where similar objects are grouped together to be analyzed. This may be an efficient way of analyzing a large amount of data, but may also cause inaccuracy if incorrectly done.
  • Cognitive skills - These refer to the skills a person has as per their intellect. They include skills such as computation, analysis, evaluation, spotting differences, comparing, contrasting, biased and unbiased thinking. Even creatures without lateral thinking may still have cognitive skills, albeit far inferior to human cognitive skills.
  • Coherence - The act or state of being logically consistent. In academic terms it means to be clear and easy to understand by the intended audience.
  • Colloquial expressions - These are expressions used by a relatively large amount of people, but that are localized in one area. This may be as small as within a company, as large as within a country or community.
  • Effect - A change that comes as a direct result of something else, which is usually a cause. It may also denote the power to influence. It may mean the impression given. It is used as a noun, whereas affect is used as a verb. An affect acts upon, and the effect is the result.
  • Elaborate - To better explain something in more detail so that the reader may understand it more fully. It may also mean explaining something to remove any vagaries or potential misunderstandings.
  • Emphasis - To draw attention to something and expose it. To add emphasis may mean to expose something more fully when compared with other elements within a written piece.
  • Enumerate - To list thing individually or count them. To give numbers to something, usually to order or count them.
  • Essay - A standard piece of academic writing that draws upon academically credible resources or academic knowledge to make a point, expose something or to pose a question.
  • Essay hook - This is the element of an essay that draws the reader in. The aim is to help the reader decide if he or she should read the essay by trying to capture the reader’s interest.
  • Etymology - The study of words or their origin/history. They commonly explain why we use words the way we do.
  • Evaluate - To take all the evidence and all the points made and assess their validity with an aim to drawing a conclusion. The assessment of validity may include drawing upon the original hypothesis to see if the evidence, facts and points made are actually relevant and/or meaningful.
  • Evidence - This is the available body of information and facts that indicate whether a proposition or belief is true or valid.
  • Examine - To explore something in detail that usually involves taking notes. It is done to help improve knowledge about a subject or idea.
  • Expand - Usually this means to make larger, but in academic terms means to better explain or elaborate. To make something more detailed, in-depth or less brief.
  • Exploratory essay - Exploring a problem or an issue without trying to support a thesis. It may be as simple as a piece of research that opens up a subject so that it may be studied more closely or in more detail.
  • Expository essay - A type of essay where the writer investigates an idea, expounds on the idea, evaluates evidence, and sets an argument concerning the idea in a concise and clear manner.
  • Figurative language - None-literal language or representational language. It may refer to representing by allegorical figures. It may mean using an emblematic human or animal figure to represent an abstract question quality or idea.
  • Flashback - An earlier event or scene. In written work it refers to the reference to an earlier event or scene.
  • Footnotes - Additional details found at the foot of the essay or at the foot of the page. It may not be necessary for reader comprehension, but is there if the reader wants more detail.
  • Formal essay - An essay using an academic structure, type and style, and absent of creative diversions or poetic license.
  • Framework - This is a structure through which something works, is written, or is held up. Standard frameworks within essays make reading and studying different essays easier because they are structured in a similar way.
  • Free association - Using a word(s) or image(s) to spontaneously suggest another without a logical connection.
  • Full references - Short references may give an idea of the source material, but full references give an easier-to-follow-up insert for each reference. The act of giving full references may also include adding references to all facts, principles, points and ideas that require proof or that are not the original creation of the writer.
  • Galley - A trial print run or trial publishing run.
  • Generalization - A sweeping statement that is almost impossible to fully backup because of the randomness of the universe.
  • Give an account of - To describe, usually in detail.
  • GPO style - The style used by the United States Government Publishing Office.
  • Harvard style - Parenthetical referencing that is one of the most commonly used referencing styles in the USA. Many colleges/Universities have variations of their preferred Harvard style.
  • Heading - A subtitle or subtitles used to break up text into easier to understand and/or read sections of related material.
  • Hyperbole - To exaggerate, usually to make a point with more impact. It is deliberate and obvious exaggeration to make a point in a way that does not come across as an outright lie.
  • Hypothesis - A theory, question or point that needs investigation, disproving or proving. It may also be an assumption that is taken as true for the moment.
  • Idiom - A fixed expression with a non-literal meaning. It is difficult, if not impossible, to deduce the meaning alone or out of context.
  • In-text reference - The act of putting a reference within the text so that the reader knows where the preceding point or evidence came from.
  • Induction - Inducting somebody into an institution, business, organization or position. Or, the process of creating/inducing an idea, feeling or state. Or, a logical conclusion based on evidence. It may also mean the scientific method, generalizations based on observation, or the making of generalizations.
  • Inference - A conclusion or reasoning process. An implication, deduction, supposition or the act of conjecture, assumption and/or presumption.
  • Informal essay - An essay that breaks the more formal academic rules when it comes to essay writing, usually for a creative reason, to make a more human-based or emotional point, or to make the text more interesting to read for the target audience.
  • Introduction - The text found at a start of an essay that helps the reader understand what the essay is about in general terms and if the reader will be interested in the essay content.
  • Irony - A form of humor that suggests the opposite of a literal meaning. Humor based on incongruity or based on contradiction.
  • ISBN - In publishing it is the International Standard Book Number and is used to catalog publications in a similar way that barcodes catalog groceries. It is a library specifically for publications.
  • Jargon - Specialist language used by groups, companies or a culture that means something to both those within the group/company/culture and others.
  • Lab Report - The details of work done in a lab that may be used later as evidence or for the basis of analysis.
  • Levels of thought - What is focused upon in academics and to what degree it should be focused on.
  • Linking word - They help create longer sentences whilst maintaining fluency. They may show a relationship between points or ideas.
  • Literature essay - An essay written to inform the reader or to deliver a message to the essay reader.
  • Literature research - The use of credible and respected resource during the research process.
  • Loaded words - High inference language that helps direct a thought or conclusion in the mind of a reader. It may evoke a stereotype or emotion with its use where another just as suitable word wouldn’t.
  • Logical fallacy - An error in reasoning especially related to correct and incorrect logic.
  • Questionnaire - A series of questions directed at one person. They are usually used as fact-gathering tools. They will feature either open-ended or closed questions.
  • Quotation - Text or a group of words taken from another source and inserted into the writer’s work, usually to make a point, prove a point or act as evidence.
  • Sarcasm - Mocking or deriding language that uses the opposite of what is true or correct. It is the deliberate use of opposites in order to lie but make the lie obvious in a mocking or deriding fashion.
  • Satire - It involves criticism or critical comments that use wit, irony, ridicule and/or sarcasm to make the point.
  • Scholarly literature - This is written work produced by an academic institution and the people within, which includes students.
  • Scholarship essay - An essay a student sends off to convince a group that he or she is worthy of a scholarship.
  • Show how - Demonstrate your knowledge of something by giving instructions on the matter.
  • Simile - It is figurative language that draws a comparison. It will usually contain the words 'like' or 'as'.
  • Slang - Words used by people on mass to signify something that is not defined as such in a dictionary. Slang is not something that is taught within in English.
  • Spatial order - This is where items are arranged according to their relationships or physical position.
  • Specific - To be precise or detailed and avoiding any vagueness.
  • Speech - Communication through speaking, or a piece of text that a person prepares so that he or she may give a speech without having to think up the content of the speech on the spot.
  • State - The act of declaring something. To express something in words or announce something.
  • Statement - A declaration of almost anything. It may be a declaration of intent or meaning or a declaration of a point. It cannot be a question. It may be a fact, intention or policy.
  • Statistics project - A project that has works on statistics with a view to a conclusion, result or answer.
  • Structure - A system of parts that are arranged in a designated order or function in a designated order. The system of parts are usually organized in a way that makes them linked in some way to form a larger whole.
  • Style - The manner in which something is done. Within academics it may refer to the way a piece is written or referenced.
  • Stylistics - The study of linguistic style that includes both written and spoken language. It may include literary works or genres, and may categorize specific groups.
  • Subheading - A version of a heading that separates out a piece of work to make it easier to read and/or understand. It may separate out portions of a piece of work that are already under category headers.
  • Subjective - Based on feels, opinion or a point of view rather than evidence and/or facts.
  • Summary - A short description of the main points of a piece of work. A collection of points that sum up the work as a whole. A way of getting a brief view of a piece of work.
  • Syllogism - It may mean deductive reasoning, a specious argument or an example of deduction. It may also be a logical argument that involves three prepositions, such as a formal deductive argument with a major premise, minor premise, and conclusion. 
  • Symbol - Something that represent something else.
  • Syntax - This is the organization or framework of sentences. It is also a branch of grammar that studies and dictates the rules of correct structure, organization and framework of sentences.
  • Understatement - This is a muted or restrained statement of expression. It is a statement that is deliberately understated, which means it is less forceful and/or less dramatic than it otherwise should be.
  • Unity - A combination of two or more to become one, or the condition of being one. It may also mean a whole that is made up of numerous separate entities. It may also be used to describe harmony.
  • Unreliable - In academics an unreliable source is one that is not academically credible. This means it cannot be used to prove a point or a fact, and cannot be used as evidence without making your essay flawed and/or unreliable in itself.
  • Validity - It signifies the reason why something is valid within a certain situation. In terms of data or evidence, it indicates their relevance or correctness.
  • Vancouver style - One of the most commonly used referencing and citation styles used within medical and physical science papers. The other most commonly used being Harvard.
  • Vantage point - A specific point of view. From the writer’s perspective, it is his or her point of view. When referring to others, it is their unique view of a situation or event.
  • Writer’s block - This is the name given to a period during writing when further ideas around what to write are absent. It is a frame of mind that makes a piece of writing very difficult to continue.

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Glossary of essay terms


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