In order to make our words or concepts clear, we use a definition. The purpose of a definition is to state exactly what a word means. A good definition should enable a reader to ‘pick out’ instances of the word or concept with no outside help. For example, suppose we wanted to define the word “apple”. If the definition is successful, then the reader should be able go out into the world and select every apple which exists, and only apples. If the reader misses some apples, or includes some other items (such as pears), or can’t tell whether something is an apple or not, then the definition fails.
- Circular Definition
The definition includes the term being defined as a part of the definition.
- Conflicting Conditions
The definition is self-contradictory.
- Failure to Elucidate
The definition is harder to understand than the term being defined.
- Too Broad
The definition includes items which should not be included.
- Too Narrow
The definition does not include items which should be included.