Good J-J dictionary for iOS?

The few threads that I found regarding this topic were a few years old, so what J-J dictionaries for iOS do people recommend these day? 新明解国語辞典 第七版 発音音声付き by 三省堂 looks pretty good:新明解国語辞典-第七版-発音音声付き/id946807615

It has voiced items, which is important to me, and seems to have all sorts of interesting stuff like 慣用句. But I was wondering if there is some kind of one-dictionary-to-rule-them-all that is a must-have on iOS that I just don’t know about, which is why I’m asking. :grin:


I love Monokakido’s Dictionaries app:
They’re having a spring sale right now too!


I use this for the iPad. It’s based on a dictionary for elementary school students so it’s not as exhaustive as some but the definitions are written more simply which is nice when starting out. It’s also by Monokakido.


Which one’s would you recommend? It’s a bit confusing and even with the sale I can probably only afford one.

What’s your level of comfort in reading Japanese/using J-J dictionaries? The dictionaries are surprisingly different in character. If you’re just starting out with J-J dictionaries I’d definitely recommend Sanseido’s Kokugo Jiten (the orange logo). It’s the least expensive, is fairly up to date with modern slang/new words, and is designed to be accessible for middle-high schoolers so the definitions tend to be more simple and concise. Shinmeikai (red logo) is closely related to Kokugo Jiten (produced by the same folks) but tends to have longer and more nuanced entries that give a greater sense of the feel of a word. Daijirin (purple logo) has a standard dictionary feel and is more comprehensive, as it has more entries than the previous two.

I’ve accumulated *cough i.e. spent way too much on*cough a lot of their dictionaries…I use them for my job, read a lot, sometimes when tutoring folks, and am studying for the Kanken (pre-level 2), so it’s been worth it for me. I’ve actually found it really quick and useful to be able to jump from dictionary to dictionary within their ecosystem. If anyone has any questions about the following I’d be happy to answer them. I’ve got:

  • Wisdom 3 (J-E, E-J, only one that allows bookmark exports)
  • Sanseido Kokugo Jiten (三省堂国語辞典 第七版)
  • Shinmeikai Kokugo Jiten (三省堂 新明解国語辞典 第七版)
  • Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (shorter edition, 精選版 日本国語大辞典)
  • Daijirin 4 (大辞林 第四版)
  • Shinjigen (角川新字源 改訂新版) - good for knowing loads of details about specific kanji (i.e meanings, readings, jukugo, origin)
  • Kanken (漢検 漢字辞典 第二版) - like above but more concise with useful info for Kanken studying
  • Kogo 5 (旺文社 全訳古語辞典 第五版) - Useful for obscure historical names/words that sometimes pop up. Also can be good for some Aozora Bunko stuff that contains older Japanese.
  • Ruigo Jiten (類語辞典) - would not recommend now that Roget’s Nihongo Thesaurus is out
  • Roget’s Nihongo Thesaurus (日本語シソーラス 類語検索辞典 第2版) - Worth it if you have to compose text in Japanese

I’m ok with less abstract definitions with simple language so a less complicated one seems best. I probably have to go back to J-E 80% of the time still, but I’m getting there. :wink:

That sounds like the one for me. :smiley: Thanks for the comprehensive breakdown. I’m bookmarking the post.

I’ll try to work my way up to Red Belt and Purple Belt. lol

That looks brilliant. Too bad it’s iPad only. :confused:




By any chance, would you know how the 新字源 compares relatively to the 全訳漢辞海? Both are being sold at the same price. I didn’t see the 全訳漢辞海 in your list above.

Yup! I ended up not getting 漢辞海 but you really can’t go wrong with either. They’re both chock full of information, including radicals and jukugo usage, but are similar enough that I wouldn’t recommend getting both. I ultimately decided to go with 新字源 because I prefer the way the entries are laid out - I find them more streamlined/easy to navigate, and I really like how they highlight the most common meanings in red. It also has more kanji at ~13,500 (vs 12,500 in 漢辞海) as well as more jukugo entries but that’s not the main reason why I chose it.

Edit: more info

I think part of why it feels easier to navigate is that the meanings/definitions are headed with kana keyword(s) and use simpler language. Makes it easier to glean the gist of a word quickly and then read further for clarification rather than sorting through a definition that might have more complicated kanji/jukugo that I then have to skip to another dictionary to understand.

Here’s an example screen shot from my iPad:


Thanks! I bought it. I love it. Sorry for one last question: What is the blue arrow that has 付 and homonym?

Nice, enjoy! The 付 stands for 付録 which means supplemental/appendix material. And yeah, 同訓異義 is different kanji with the same kun reading and similar meanings so if you click on that link it’ll take you to a PDF that’s an appendix list of a bunch of these kinds of words that goes over the nuances (so good when wondering what the difference between 合う and 会う and 遭う is lol). It won’t auto-skip to that particular entry in the PDF though, unfortunately.


I got the 三省堂国語辞典 on impulse…

The app is nice, and I can just about understand the definitions, but what the hell do all the symbols mean? Is there some kind of guide to what an upside down triangle, or what the three different types of brackets mean?


Wow! Starting this thread was definitely worth it! Now to go through all the recommendations! :blush:

Could you please explain how the information is laid out here? I don’t think I can read it correctly. For example, the round numbers after 意味 are certainly meanings, right? Why is number 8 しるし without any kanji following it? Isn’t しるし「印」?

And what do the katakana ア and イ mean after 8? イ also has アイズ with the word 信号 after it, isn’t アイズ「合図」and 信号「しんごう」?

The right side differs from the left side, which seems to have the actual vocabulary definitions, so I assume the right side is some kind of kanji-specific information.

Sorry for asking so many questions! :sweat_smile: The dictionary looks great, I’d like to know how it works.


I love this app and thanks to the sale I got the new Daijirin (I had the 3rd in my denshi jisho from 2007) and the kanji dic.
I like that I can read on my phone, highlight a word and send it to the app in the various dictionaries.
Thanks for the tip in the sale :relieved:

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I’ve always found the built-in Apple’s J-J dictionary on iOS more than sufficient, which is based on 大辞林 (or was it some other famous dictionary?). On mac there is even a pitch-accent dictionary by default!

I don’t read in the Mac, I usually read on my phone and I enjoy switching between the various dictionary. :relaxed:

Oh, I mean’t the pitch accent is only in OSX but the there is a built in dictionary in iOS as well.

Personally I can’t stand reading on a screen unless it’s e-ink, so I just look stuff up with my phone.

Yes but you can’t switch between various dictionaries. There where times where I found something in my sanseido while I didn’t find it in the Daijirin and if I want to look for the kanji I can now look it up. I find quite handy to read on my phone, I know it’s not the best for my eyes in the long run but I can’t stand to use my Mac or any PC for reading…when I’m at home I use my kindle for books but for websites or words I can’t find on the kindle dictionary I use my phone :iphone:
I also love denshi jisho which sometimes have some dictionaries that are available as apps but you can do much more with them. I know I’m a little weird :laughing:

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The way the built in dictionary works on the ipad really annoys me. Like if I’m reading manga and I want to look something up, I have to go to home, swipe down, do the search, then try and read the tiny white font on the stupid cloudy grey background they’ve decided on :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

It works pretty well if you can highlight the word you’re looking up though.

P.S. Why the hell does it not show pitch accent like the mac dictionary?

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Yup! If you quick press on one of those symbols it’ll take you to the 略語表 which is a guide to what all the various symbols mean, including the different types of brackets.

On what ▽ means In 三省堂国語辞典:
  • The upside down triangle (if its not red) means it’s in the joyou kanji list but is not the standard On/Kun reading on that list. For example, 差す and 射す have さす as a reading and in many cases can be used interchangeably, but 差す is considered more standard than 射す.
    That is not to say that these alternate readings are less valid, they were just deemed less important by the creators of the 常用漢字表, which in large part is a way create standards for the educational system to follow…there were just too many different readings, so they wanted to sort through and figure out which ones were the most essential to teach.

  • The red upside down triangle indicates the below information applies to all preceding numbers (①, ②, etc.). So in the below example, the (⟷ ) means the enclosed kanji function like antonyms, and the red triangle on top means this applies to the preceding meanings ① and ②.

No problem! Like I say above, if you buy the dictionary you get access to the 略語表, but of course its all explained in Japanese. There’s also something called the 凡例 which is a massive explanation/breakdown of all dictionary features, entry organization, and symbols. It even goes over the logic for the hierarchy of definition ordering. The nice thing for both 略語表 and 凡例 is that you can look up vocab in the symbol table in the same way as you would anywhere else, and in multiple dictionaries if you have them.

Answers to your questions


For this dictionary, the main meanings are often written solely in kana (this is particularly true for common kanji with multiple meanings, less so for more obscure kanji), and the clarifications/definitions of those meaning laid out below the kana that often include kanji. In this case they chose to create subheadings for the clarifications, leading to your next question…

Whenever you see katakana like ア and イ they are subheadings under the preceding number. They always start with ア and go in アイウエ order from there. So in the example entry 8, しるし is a category of meaning that can be further broken down into ききめ and あいず which are essentially nuanced words related to しるし. あいず is like a sign(signal) to someone, and ききめ (効き目 in kanji) is a sign that something is working, like a drug, for instance.

Yes! You’re quite right on the appropriate readings for the kanji. In this case, 信号 shows an example of how the header kanji 信 is used when taking on the あいず meaning. Whenever you see the header kanji in「」under a meaning it’s an example of the header kanji’s usage with that meaning.

Yup! The right side is kanji-specific information, like its classification identifiers/numbers/radical, readings, origin/history, meanings etc. And the left is jukugo using that kanji, with their corresponding definitions. One thing to note is that the jukugo here seems to be limited to kanji that start with 信 but not those that include 信 in the latter position.
Note: Although this info can be found easily by doing a regex search in a regular dictionary like 大辞林:

Hope this helps! Sorry if my answers were a bit rambly/unclear or if there are typos – these dictionaries are really massive wells of information and it can challenging to sort through, but it does get much better once you get your bearings. Please let me know if I can clarify anything!

Edit: @Uzuki so you see this
Edit Edit: Lol nvm I see the one reply went to both of you