Daily flash card reviews have a way of reinforcing the same language over and over into your head. This is good. It’s how you remember. But sometimes this can have the side effect of certain words being your “go to” words when trying to express yourself. While there is nothing wrong with saying 食べる, おいしい, and すごい at every possible moment, you may want to expand. There are some useful tools to help you out.
The word you need to know to start is 類語 (synonym/related word) and what you are looking for is a powerful online Japanese Thesaurus. There are two big names, and one smaller one which you probably have never heard of (but should look at).
In each of the thesauruses, I’m going to do a search for the word 食べる to show you what information each one provides.
1. Goo Thesaurus
There are also easy to view synonym charts that are fully clickable, bringing up the definition for every synonym word.
The one thing I don’t like is the English definition stuffed right in the middle of everything. This can be a pain if you are already in J-J.
2. Weblio Thesaurus
Weblio is probably one of the fastest growing Dictionaries/Thesauruses, and with this, you’ll almost always find what you are searching for.
While it excels in breadth, it falters in depth. There’s just not that much per entry. While it has clickable definitions, these clicks only bring you to other thesaurus entries, and not the definitions themselves.
3. Tamatebako Thesaurus
Tamatebako is a much smaller and less refined site compared to the two giants above. It doesn’t even have links on the words.
What I love about it is its creativity. It splits up the synonyms into special categories in a way the other two do not. For example, for 食べる, the synonyms are broken down into:
- Woman/Ill person Eating
- Man/Student Eating
- Eating deliciously/Eating with bad manners
- Family/Group Eating
- Animal/Humans eating
Sometimes I like to just browse when I’m writing in Japanese to let my imagination run wild with new phrases. However, it can be frustrating to run into “no search results found” more often than not.
Your Favorite Thesaurus
Have you used any of the above three? Which do you like? Or do you have another big one to add to this list?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.