Is it an essay or a Thesis?

Is it an essay or a Thesis?

A question that infrequently arises is “what is the difference between an essay and a thesis?”


For an understanding, it may be helpful to turn to the Greek and Latin roots of these two words. Thesis comes from the Greek language, carrying with it the meaning of “position” and essay comes from the Latin language, carrying with it the meaning of “discourse” or “discussion.”

A thesis, therefore, is the formal presentation of a specific position or argument on a given topic or issue. An essay, on the other hand, is a formal discussion or presentation of a given topic or subject. Based on this understanding, the two seem related, but are apparently two distinct things.

What Are They?

With our new understanding, we can build a better picture of the words and perhaps put this debate to rest. An essay is an examination or discussion of a given topic, subject or issue and a thesis is the position or argument the student is taking regarding the topic, subject or issue.
Thus, though the two concepts are tightly related, the terms are not, properly, interchangeable, regardless of their common usage. A thesis is the starting point for an essay. It is the theory or hypothesis that stands at the heart of the essay discussion and evaluation.

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