Monolingual dictionary corner

角川新国語辞典 単行本


First edition : 1981
Latest edition : 1981
Publisher :
Number of words: 75000 words
Number of pages : 1467 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-4040116006

While this dictionary hasn’t seen a new version since it first got published in 1981 it has been somewhat updated throughout every reprint, with well over a hundred “editions” it has gone through over the years. It is one of only a few of the truly long - selling dictionaries around.

The upside of the dictionary is that notes on historical kana usage are included, but while this is useful for people writing haiku and tanka poetry, for Japanese language learners this is a dictionary that doesn’t hold a lot of use.




First edition:1982
Last edition:1998 (second edition)
Number of words:49000 words
Number of pages : 1031 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-4095016023

While this isn’t a dictionary I would recommend, it has a few things setting itself somewhat apart from the rest. It touts itself on the huge amount of information presented regarding honorifics, so if that is something you are interested in this could very well be the dictionary for you. (Though there are other dictionaries dealing with this subject coming in later posts). Even for a small dictionary the headword count is on the lower end of the spectrum. They have some articles on historical events (the lines between Japanese dictionaries and encyclopaedia can be considered blurry at best :stuck_out_tongue: ), but that’s not a feature I would personally select a dictionary for.

If you have bad eyesight but still want to use paper dictionaries instead of a digital one, this might be for you as they have a bigger (7 point) font, compared to other dictionaries.


Android recommendations? (and price?)

For me, it’s a matter of convenience; as well as how fast I can understand the terms. I still have Kotobank app, but it’s not as convenience as Aedict. De-conjugation aside, I still expect convenience features, history and Kanji browsing, at least.

Aedict dictionary selection

Furthermore, even after reading the definitions and I still don’t understand, it can happen. (So, google, which can still sometimes fail.) Not like dictionary is everything, but better dictionaries can help lots.

Quality of definitions has more differences in Kanji counterpart. [1]

    • I think KANJIDIC’s proofreading is paused, unless you e-mail the maintainer.
    • Wiktionary mixes Kanji and vocabularies, and eventually references monolingual JJ sources. It also shows results for non-Japanese.

I got the Meikyo from I think your April sale recommendation post because you mentioned it’s a dictionary that has furigana. I would see some furigana occasionally but it wasn’t until I was poking around the app today that I found an actual toggle to turn it on for real :sweat_smile:

After you search a word, click the three-lines menu icon to show additional options. There a toggle for “Show Full Ruby” which will enable furigana.


Probably someone else’s recommendation, but the Meikyo is a great rec :smile_cat: The full ruby option is a great option indeed! I’ll look into doing a write-up of the Meikyo today, as it’s a brilliant little dictionary with some peculiarities ^^


A quick look at the symbols used in the Meikyo dictionary

Symbols and dictionary shorthand can often be quite confusing. It doesn’t help that there isn’t one standard being used across all dictionaries. I might in a future endeavor type out all symbols and shorthand for every dictionary discussed in this topic, but as it’s quite a big job I’ve decided on just doing this for the Meikyo dictionary first. I must admit that there are quite a few I never really pay attention to (such as those concerning old conjugation patterns for example), so if there are any corrections, addendums, … anyone would like to make, please feel free to share!

Symbol Meaning
Kanji outside of the Jōyō - Kanji
Phonetic reading outside of the Jōyō - Kanji
《 》 Words in the Jōyō - Kanji
〈 〉 Reading of a Kanji compound
[ ] Indicates part-of-speech
( ) Indicates constituents of compound word
Intransitive verb
Transitive verb
補動 Auxiliary Verb
Godan conjugation
Yodan conjugation (classical Japanese)
上一 Conjugation (inflection, declension) of ichidan verbs ending in "iru"​
上二 Conjugation (inflection, declension) of nidan verbs (resulting in a stem of either “i” or “u” for every conjugation) (literary language)​
下一 Conjugation (inflection, declension) of ichidan verbs ending in "eru"​
下二 Conjugation (inflection, declension) of nidan verbs (resulting in a stem of either “e” or “u” for every conjugation)​ (literary language)
カ変 Irregular conjugation of the verb "kuru"​
サ変 Irregular conjugation of s-stem verbs; conjugation of the verb "suru"​
ナ変 Irregular conjugation of verbs ending in “nu” (in written Japanese)​
ラ変 Irregular conjugation of a limited number of verbs ending in “ru” (in written Japanese)​
特活 Special conjugation
補形 Auxiliary adjective
Classical form of i-adjective inflection (attributive form ends in “ki” and predicative in “shi”)
シク Classical form of i-adjective inflection (attributive form ends in “shiki” and predicative in “shi”)
形動 Adjectival noun
トタル トタルconjugation
ナリ Classical form of na-adjective inflection formed by contraction of the particle “ni” with the classical verb “ari” (“aru”)
連体 Pre-noun adjectival; Adnominal adjective
Ending with “to”
Ending with “ni”
助動 Bound auxiliary
五型 Godan-style conjugation
四型 Yodan-style conjugation
下一型 Conjugation (inflection, declension) of ichidan verbs ending in “eru”
下二型 Classical Japanese Conjugation on which I didn’t find a lot at first glance
ナ変型 Classical Japanese Conjugation on which I didn’t find a lot at first glance
ラ変型 Classical Japanese Conjugation on which I didn’t find a lot at first glance
形型 I-adjective style conjugation
形動型 Adjectival noun style conjugation
特活型 Special conjugation
格助 Case marking particle
接助 Conjunction particle
副助 Adverbial particle
終助 Sentence-ending particle
接尾 Prefix
Constituents of compound word
連語 Compound word; phrase; collocation
image56x176 Major category
❶❷❸ Subcategory
image62x120 Classification explanation in the commentary
AB Separating words with many meanings or words with long explanations by their rough meanings
〔古風〕 Archaic word
〔俗〕 Colloquial; Slang; Vulgar word
〔新〕 New word (or meaning)
image66x56 If there is only one semantic classification, a commentary on the item. Also, commentary on a certain meaning of items with multiple semantic classifications
image60x64 Commentary on the entire item (or multiple meanings) for items with multiple semantic classifications
書き方 How to write
書き分け Distinguishing words by their writing
使い方 How to use
語源 Etymology
注意 Caution
読み分け Distinguishing words by their reading
Manner of counting
Sentence form
可能 Potential verb (as in describing potentiality)
派生 Derived forms with 「げ」 「さ」 「み」 「がる」
image70x72 Transformation into a noun
image66x68 Transformation into a verb
Old Kanji form as shown in the Jōyō - Kanji
異形 Variant verbs
image98x316 Dignity column
:left_right_arrow: synonym
:arrow_down: “See also”
⦿ Subheading
早引き Quick lookup for words with many homophones
逆引き Headings that allow for reverse indexing from the back or middle of a word

Definitely bookmarking this for my own reference, thank you!

I’d love to read your explanation about the way definitions are written in dictionaries. Something I struggled with when I first started with J-J dictionaries was the usage and meanings or implications of ~ある事、~ある物事、~様、~こと、「また、そのさま」、etc. It’s can be a very different style of writing compared to what you read everywhere else.


I’ll add it to my writing list, but I’m going to need some time to think about how to properly tackle that topic. Thanks for the suggestion!


Oh, wow, that’s amazing. I wish I had this months ago when I was just starting to get into J-J. Bravo. :clap:


Possibly of interest: Kokugo Dictionaries as Tools for Learners: Problems and Potential, an article by Tom Gally, who worked for a period as an editor of JE and EJ dictionaries. Nothing earth-shaking, but a good summary of what to expect, the advantages, and a few awkwardnesses that stem from these dictionaries being targeted at native speakers rather than learners.


Each dictionary does typically define its symbology in an appendix somewhere, but of course if you’re just starting out it’s not always easy to find it or comprehend it once you do find it…


Aye, for sure. That’s what I posted earlier.

Haha, yup. 名 for 名詞 is super simple, but just learning to read something 上一・下一 is tough unless you already know, let alone being able to parse the “explanation” of 上一段活用・下一段活用.

Skimmed it a bit and it’s a good read. I’ll save it to digest later. :+1:


e.g. Daijisen has the help page online. Mostly the symbols/abbreviations are in the 記号・約物一覧 subsection, but some (notably the bracketing and numbering systems) are described as part of the other help page articles. Overall though I think the differences from Meikyo’s system are minor.


Neat little paper ^^ Thanks for sharing!


Another potentially confusing thing in dictionary entries if you’re not expecting it: historical kana spellings. These are usually given in katakana, sometimes in half-width katakana. For example Daijisen’s entry for 学校 has the heading:


Here ガクカウ is the historical kana spelling. Assuming you’re not trying to read or write(!) a pre-WW2 text you can simply ignore it.


I had already bookmarked this thread, but the symbols quick look gets its own bookmark. Thanks for wrtiting it up!

I’d love to know more about the ✦ dignity column ✧ haha (I will go look this up now)


Quick comment on electronic dictionaries. I use the Casio Ex-Word N9800 electronic dictionary. It is great but designed for Japanese people, so I sensed some search limitations for foreigners.

  • Better search may be offered by Sharp or newer Casio models (Casio had a minor upgrade 2015 and a big upgrade 2019).

  • Computer & phone apps have the potential to search ALL dictionary contents and provide more useful results. Performance is entirely dependent on the developer so YMMV.

The N9800 nits that bother me:

  1. Search via Japanese example sentence is not optimised
  • 例文検索 only permits English letter input
  • 「日本語例文検索」sentence search is available on some international Ex-Words (E-A10) but I don’t see it on Japanese Ex-Words, which have「日本語キーワードで英語の例文を探す」
  1. More irritating, search by “handwritten kanji” sometimes pulls just a few results. Workarounds:
    → My Japanese friends use 新漢語林. And maybe just use those definitions. One can also search from there
    → I also found selecting the kanji and using the JUMP function provided more results. That takes a few steps

I think “handwritten kanji” limitation is because Japanese people usually search by reading, not the kanji. Alternatively, might be related to CPU & database structure to speed searches/save battery. Or maybe legacy programing before touch screens.


It’s entries with a similar meaning that can be used in more formal settings. Think of it like a thesaurus function for a limited number of examples. For example if we are to look at the 行く entry, this would be the dignity column :


A Japanese article about the dignity column with some examples and the like : 「品格ある言葉遣い」へ 工夫凝らした明鏡 | 毎日ことば


this looks cool af matskye

ill eventually take the time to read through the whole thing and stuff but atm ill keep it on watching


Quick question regarding symbols from 三省堂:

Any idea why the first definition is enclosed in 〔〕brackets?