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definition essay for the word "American"

by thundereagle


A/N : I wrote this for AP lang

The word American means different things depending on your point of view and where you are from. To the citizens of many countries, the word American can mean an overweight, racist, diabetes stricken individual who doesn’t care about anything but where his or her next piece of barbequed meat comes from.  Americans are often described as selfish people that are mostly concerned with gaining as much wealth for themselves as possible, with little or no regard for the fate of others. Another popular sentiment is that if you are American you like football, NASCAR, and driving vehicles that consume enough fuel to power a city for a week in one day. An anti-American person is always quick to point out that North America is a continent and therefore, citizens of Canada and Mexico should also be called Americans. 

For those of us that are fortunate enough to live in the United States of America (USA), the word not only serves as an abbreviation for the name of our country, but the it also represents a sense of  pride and freedom that only citizens of the USA will ever truly know. This feeling comes from the fact that no other country is quite like the USA. Our nation is a melting pot, comprised of people of many different races, backgrounds, and cultures, The USA has only existed for a couple of hundred years while many countries have civilizations that date back thousands of years. The USA was founded on the principals of democracy and that remains a key characteristic of the beliefs of most Americans today. There have been dark times and a crooked leader in the past, but that is true for any nation.

Ours is one of the freest nations, were one can receive a higher education, own a home and car, carry a firearm, have a steady job or even start a business. Very few other governments promise the freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion and uphold it. Thinking like an American means that you were taught from an early age that you can achieve virtually anything you want if you are willing to work hard enough. Americans are proud of our accomplishments but humble enough to remember that lots of hard work and sacrifice was required to achieve them.

Being a democracy is sometimes difficult and there are lots of disagreements among our leaders about what to do next but the concept is that the majority always rules. We have always struggled with the practice of treating all people equally but as a nation we keep working to get it right. The USA lends military resources and financial aid to our allies and citizens of other countries that are in need. In the USA, higher education is available to all those who elect to pursue it. Many Americans choose to pursue a career in our armed forces but we do not require military service. Given all these factors, it should be clear America is not just full of selfish rich people but it truly is the land of the free, and the home of the brave.


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Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:37 pm
aulyasela3597 wrote a review...



An American is a U.S. citizen. It is as simple as that. I know nothing about professional football, basketball, or baseball. I haven't watched a Superbowl in ages, and I couldn't even tell you who played.

If you immigrated to the U.S. to become an American, then congratulations. You're an American. If, on the other hand, you only came here seeking citizenship as a matter of convenience and you don't want to think of yourself or be thought of as an American, that's too bad. Your legal standing is still "American."




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Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:47 pm
StellaThomas wrote a review...



Hey there thunder! I'm guessing by the 'eagle' in your username that you really do love America!

As a non-American, American pride always baffles me (we're not nearly as patriotic in Europe!) so a lot of this essay is a very foreign concept to me. But we're not here to debate subject matter, I'm here to try and help your writing!

Firstly, when you say that "American" should cover all of North America... I thought it was weird that you didn't mention Central America or South America, as they should also both come under the term "American" when you think about it! So even the reasoning there seemed a little bit flawed to me.

After that, I felt like you didn't really answer the question at hand - why should only people from the USA be allowed to use the word "American"? So, you do a really good job of describing national pride, but you never actually really answer the question of why should it pertain only to the United States? Should America's democracy and capitalism override those of Canada?

I had a few other issues:

For those of us that are fortunate enough to live in the United States of America (USA)


For me, this line gives away your endgame. Try and make it a little less biased.

were one can receive a higher education,


where. Again, I took issue with this because higher education is really not as available in the States as it is in other parts of the world, because of its prohibitive expense. Here, the government pays all our university fees for us, making it more accessible for everybody. In America, the extortionate fees make a university education unattainable for a lot of people. I feel like you should either address this or leave it out, but not contradict it.

it should be clear America is not just full of selfish rich people but it truly is the land of the free, and the home of the brave.


Given the massive percentage of Americans who go hungry and live beneath the poverty line, I don't think anybody thinks this!

Hope I helped, drop me a note if you need anything!

-Stella x




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Sun Oct 05, 2014 6:23 am
WindSailor wrote a review...



Hello, Windsailor here to review your essay. So as an American, I agree partially with the point you try to make, although I slightly disagree. However, I will leave my personal comments until the end.

This essay's main point obvious from the title is to define the word "American", and I feel it is a good start but I think some of it could be improved. I am not sure what type of essay was meant to be, but it seems very personal, and normally an essay is supposed to be an unbiased or at least non-personal look at a matter. Throughout the essay you make claims that cannot be validated, such as,

but the it also represents a sense of pride and freedom that only citizens of the USA will ever truly know.
I understand the point you are trying to make, but I feel that people from other countries feel the same way about their native home. Everyone feels their country is the best in some regard, and I feel this bit was unnecessary.

Furthermore, your last paragraph seemed very busy, meaning, you had way to much information in one section. I would try rewriting this paragraph and focus on bringing the essay to a close. The ending when read appeared rushed, and I think it could have been way less sudden and could have been built up to within that paragraph. Also, I am not sure what treating people unfairly or our government failing to upkeep some minority's rights has to do with defining the word American. If you wanted to drive home Americans being "the home of the brave", then you should have focused on that to start with.

Finally, just a note, be sure to cite sources to any claims you make, it makes it easy for someone to find the information you may have used.


My personal opinion is this, I believe Americans are brave, but they are also extremely wasteful and lazy. Americans as a society have accepted hoarding vast amounts of wealth, buying every new device, and wanting more than they can afford pretty normal. However, I do believe we are still as a nation, brave. We fight terrorism on many fronts and try to defend other nations freedoms and rights as much as we possibly can. I enjoyed this essay, and I think it could just use a tad bit of clean up. Other than the few things I pointed out, excellent job. Keep writing! : )





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