Translating Domain Names


Using Google Translate to translate English to [another language] is the # 1 mistake that all newcomers make. This is a telltale sign of one’s lack of experience. If you crawl back through 5 years of IDNForums threads, you’ll see this mistake time and time again when new members post an appraisal. Mainstream machine translators are often junk for individual words, and a high % of the time they are wrong. Autotranslators are really only good for translating sentences/paragraphs so that you get the rough idea of the context. So avoid machine translations, though they are simple and tempting. Just don’t do it, especially if you are a newbie and don’t yet appreciate the odds that the translation is wrong.

So what is the best way to get a translation? The best way to verify names is to start with a list of foreign terms that you believe to be the correct translation. Then either use a native colleague or use a foreign dictionary. Many foreign dictionaries are free, online, and are just as easy to use as autotranslators. You just need to know where to find them.

To get you started, the gold standard for Japanese online dictionaries is Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC dictionary. The beauty of this tool is that it reveals the part of speech (i.e. noun, adjective, verb), and whether the word is Kanji or Katakana (which is a transliteration, and sometimes not the prime translation). My rule of thumb is that when a domain I want to buy is selling for $400+ I will contact a native translation agency to verify the translation for me, as the extra $10-$20 is worth it for a substantial purchase. Alternatively there are many native speaking members at IDNForums who will often assist. Networking pays dividends in the IDN community.

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Aaron Krawitz of IDNBlog and Gary Males of IDNDemystified, are guest authors of this IDN series on ElliotsBlog.   Aaron and Gary co-own   IDNDroplist, IDNTools and IDNNewsletter.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. I have a bunch of questions, and I will save them until after the last post 🙂

    On Monday, I will run a Q & A if you have questions aside from what’s been mentioned.

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