The Best Online Japanese Dictionaries

online japanese dictionariesThere are so many online Japanese dictionaries, but only a handful matter. Throughout the years, I’ve used many different dictionaries and I’ve narrowed them down. Each one on this list has has a special feature or history that makes it stand out more than the others.

 

Online Japanese dictionaries for English speakers

 

Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC
wwwjdic japanese dictionary

This is the mother of all online Japanese dictionaries for English speakers. The interface is an absolute mess, but the data that lies inside is gold. I used this site briefly many years ago before giving up because there was simply too much information and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Maybe that’s why so many other sites use the data from WWWJDIC but focus on the design and presentation elements. I don’t recommend using this site, but it’s important to remember that other online Japanese dictionaries are using the data from this site. If you want to get away from dictionaries with WWWJDIC data you will need to use sites for native Japanese speakers.

Example Search results:
WWWJDIC japanese dictionary results

 

Tangorin
tangorin japanese dictionary

Tangorin is a really nice Japanese dictionary that uses the data from WWWJDIC but looks so much better. The killer feature of this online Japanese dictionary is word lists. If you register for a free account, anything you look up on the site can be saved and sorted into lists that you make. I would look up vocabulary from different sources and separate them in this way. I used this dictionary for many years until another dictionary site “Jisho” completed their redesign which convinced me to switch.

Example Search results:
tangorin japanese dictionary results

 

Jisho
jisho japanese dictionary

The latest version of Jisho is probably the dictionary I use the most when I’m at a computer and looking up words for daily life in Japan. If you want to look up things quickly and find answers, Jisho is my recommended online Japanese dictionary. The only downside to this site is that it doesn’t have the list making feature of the “Tangorin” site. I’ve heard that the feature will come in the future, but that could be a long time from now.

Example Search results:
jisho japanese dictionary results

 

 

Online Japanese dictionaries for native speakers and translators

 

Eijiro
eijiro japanese dictionary

I remember first seeing this site many years ago and being overwhelmed because I couldn’t read many of the explanations and example sentences. There was simply too many kanji I couldn’t read so it turned me off. After improving my vocabulary and kanji knowledge years later, I find that Eijiro is an amazing dictionary, especially when trying to translate or explain English expressions. Even if you can’t read everything, it’s not difficult to type in a small part of an English expression and get Japanese equivalents or explanations. The service is free to use with advertisements, but the site recently introduced an account feature that requires you to make a free account if you want to see example sentences. It’s worth the hassle, in my opinion. There is also a free iPhone app for those that want access to Eijiro’s database on the go. If going through hoops for an account is not your thing, you can always use the next online Japanese dictionary on the list.

Example Search results:
eijiro japanese dictionary results

Weblio
weblio japanese dictionary

This online Japanese dictionary pulls from many different resources and is very helpful when looking at example sentences or definitions. Both native speakers and translators swear by this dictionary, but I’ve been slow to transition to this one. There are usually sources at the end of a phrase that show which dictionary source it comes from. This gives me a sense of relief because each entry is backed by some official source and not someone in a basement making up stuff. There is no mobile app available, but if you visit the site on a smartphone, you will get the mobile version of the site, which is better than nothing.

Example Search results:
weblio japanese dictionary results

 

Do you agree with this list? Let me know what online Japanese dictionaries you use and why you prefer them in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for better resources.

4 thoughts on “The Best Online Japanese Dictionaries

  1. Do you use wordreference.com? Currently, I’m not studying Japanese, but I thought that would be a good resource. I sometimes go to it for French. There’s also a forum community that’s usually very helpful (for French anyways).

    • Thanks for the site! I checked it out and I think it is best suited for learning European languages. When I use a Japanese dictionary, I like to be able to see the kanji readings, cross-reference different kanji, and other stuff like that. I’m curious where wordreference gets their Japanese dictionary data. I’ll have to check on that!

  2. Hi there! You have a cool website!! Thanks.
    There is also this dictionary http://www.tagaini.net/.
    A cool thing about it is that it shows homophones, so it helps in clarifying similar words.
    It is relatively new and seems very promising. You may want check it out later!
    Cya.

    • Hey, thanks for letting me know about Tagaini! I mentioned online Japanese dictionaries but I totally forgot about software dictionaries until your post reminded me. It’s great that it’s available for Mac/Linux/Windows. I’m going to download it and try it out.

      Thanks for your comment!

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