The Definition Paragraph

Definition is especially important to you as a future health care professional. It is widely used in medical dictionaries, journals, textbooks, and other printed materials. For example, Taberís Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary describes, or defines, diseases according to symptom, etiology, treatment, and prognosis. Issues of professional journals such as The British Medical Journal and The Pharmaceutical Journal routinely carry definition articles.

You may have already written definition sentences in a previous course. If so, you are already familiar with the organizational pattern.

Term

Class

Description

Cholera

is an intestinal infection

that can be described according to its cause, symptoms, and treatment.

The definition paragraph is a definition sentence which has been expanded into a paragraph. The definition sentence becomes the topic sentence. Each category is expanded into major supporting sentences, and minor supporting sentences are added.

Cholera is an intestinal infection that can be described according to its cause, symptoms, and treatment. A bacterium, called Vibrio cholera, is the causative agent of cholera. It can be spread through contaminated food, water, or feces. Cholera patients may exhibit different symptoms that can vary from mild to severe. Some symptoms are watery diarrhea and loss of water and salts. Oral or intravenous replacement of fluids and salts as well as specific antibiotics is a possible treatment for cholera. Patients can be treated with an oral rehydration solution or, in severe cases, an intravenous fluid.