Since I have gotten my electronic dictionary, I have not been using free online resources as much as I used to. While I love my denshi jisho, I know that they can be an investment and that many beginning to intermediate to even advanced students can thrive using free material online. I have spent a lot of time researching the meanings of words online and have decided to introduce the 3 sources that I have used most often.
English-Japanese Bilingual Dictionary
Jisho.org is a dictionary that is very popular with Japanese language learners. It is very straight forward and provides one-word or short definitions along with example sentences. I have never focused on the practice sentences on this site before, but I have heard they can sometimes be unreliable.
While I would prefer to use Japanese monolingual dictionaries while looking up words, sometimes it made more sense to use an English-Japanese dictionary. I would often use bilingual dictionaries when it came to medical terms or other terms were I thought that there would be no cultural differences in the use of the term. Sure, I could look up the word ‘uterus’ and get an understandable definition, but a uterus does the same thing world wide and I found it easier just to have a one word explanation while I was creating the SRS card for this term.
When I was relaying in this dictionary, I found it to be satisfactory and usually ended my search after using this site.
I still use this dictionary sometimes when I am working on book reviews. This dictionary has a feature where it will list a JLPT level if the term happens to be associated with a certain level.
I no longer use this dictionary for purely looking up definitions, as I prefer the Kenkyuusha dictionary on my electronic dictionary.
Japanese Monolingual dictionary
Honestly, I was never able to find one free monolingual Japanese dictionary that satisfied me. Weblio.jp came somewhat close. But it was not close enough for me to use it as my go to dictionary. I usually had to shop around on a few different sites before I found that perfect explanation that really resonated with me.
I would usually type the term into a search engine followed by the word meaning in Japanese. For example “戦慄 意味”. From there I would open up a few links and read a definitions until I was able to find an entry that suited me. Out of all of the free dictionaries out there, I think I ended up using Weblio.jp the most.
Japanese Monolingual Dictionary
Now this dictionary is something special.
It will not have all of the words that you are looking for, but when it does happen to have that specific word it has a wealth of information that will help you to understand every facet of the word. It will introduce you to the different nuances connected to the word, explain the different ways you can use it, and give you examples. Every time I have been able to use this dictionary, I felt satisfied and like I really understood its true meaning.