Japanese Online Dictionaries

Online Japanese-English language resources & dictionaries

There are several good free online dictionaries for the student of Japanese language.


Eijiro

An online dictionary at the top of the language-teaching company ALC's website, that translates between English and Japanese, either way, using the same interface.

Of all the free online dictionaries available, Eijiro has the largest database drawn from the most up-to-date sources, giving adequate examples to choose the most appropriate vocabulary item.

Eijiro is available in CD-ROM from bookshops for less than 2,000 yen, and is updated annually. Handy with a laptop when out of range of an internet connection.

Eijiro Pluses

  • Massive database of words (over 1 million)
  • constantly updated
  • Extraordinarily large number of definitions covering all kinds of usage of any particular word.
  • A wealth of example sentences.
  • Not limited to formal, literary definitions, but covers the full scope of colloquialisms

    Eijiro Minuses

  • Does not give pronunciation
  • random list of definitions - disorganized, and often consisting of inappropriate, sometimes unfamiliar, colloquialisms and slang.
  • Many of the colloquial definitions provided are politically incorrect, making this a dangerous tool in the hands of Japanese people not acquainted with the niceties of English.
  • Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Server

    This online dictionary is based on the EDICT is a Japanese-English Dictionary file created and administered by the prolific Japanese language scholar Dr. Jim Breen of Monash University in Australia. It is very multi-functional and technologically advanced, catering even for mobile phones. Jim Breen's Japanese Page is an exhaustive resource for the student of Japanese language. Includes the massive Monash Nihongo ftp Archive.

    Jim Breen Pluses

  • Can be used to find out the pronunciation of proper names, both for people and places.
  • Large number of options available for looking up language items, including individual kanji, and sentence examples (NB The sentence examples available are taken from the Tanaka Corpus that Dr. Breen himself explains in a proviso "cannot be regarded as containing natural or representative examples of text in either language". However, generally they are reliable.)
  • unlike other online dictionaries, can deal with compound words, intelligently splitting them when unable to process the whole compound, and giving separate definitions for each element.
  • Concise definitions
  • Constantly updated
  • User feedback is welcomed

    Jim Breen Minuses

  • Definitions are very brief
  • No example sentences
  • Unattractive page design

  • Mahou.org's website

    Mahou.org is a website for fans of Japanese anime. It incorporates a dictionary based on Jim Breen's EDICT database, and a kanji dictionary. Jim Breen's page is more useful as a dictionary, however, Mahou.org's kanji dictionary is superb. Entering the kanji, then clicking on the result brings up a page with exhaustive information about that kanji including example sentences and, perhaps best of all for the learner, frame-by-frame instructions of how to write the kanji, i.e. its stroke order (not all kanji, but most).

    Mahou Pluses

  • Exhaustive information about each kanji.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to write most kanji.
  • Example sentences
  • Attractive page design

    Mahou Minuses

  • The romaji transliterations of the example sentences listed are not reliable translation guides.
  • Not all kanji come with drawing instructions.

  • Books on Learning Japanese