Online dictionaries are great. Easy to use, ever expanding vocabulary, and a wide range to choose from to meet your needs. However they don’t have everything. Language is too fast for them to keep up, and a lot of language just never makes their way into them.
So what do you do when you get the dreaded “no results found” in your dictionary of choice?
Pull up Google Japan and enter one of the following three:
Adding とは is an abbreviated way that Japanese people use to say what does (word) mean.
This is the most common way, and it may either bring up a site that that has the word defined or a discussion thread like Yahoo Answers (Yahoo知恵袋 in Japan) where someone provides a meaning.
2. Word 意味
意味 or “meaning” will bring up similar (but sometimes different) results to とは.
3. Word 語源
語源 or “word origin” will often bring up the word meaning plus a deeper explanation behind it. When you want a bit more of a background behind the word, this can come in handy.
This should handle 98% of your troubles.
What’s great about Google is even when you may have mistyped the word, which an online dictionary wouldn’t be able to spot, Google will offer you a correction option.