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Pleco Chinese Dictionary

By Pleco Inc.

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Pleco is the ultimate Chinese learning companion - an integrated dictionary / document reader / flashcard system with fullscreen handwriting input and live OCR, from a company that's been making the world's best mobile Chinese learning apps since 2001.

Major features: ($ = paid add-on)

• Amazing dictionaries. We include two lovely free ones built-in: the popular open-source CC-CEDICT, with over 100,000 frequently-updated entries, and our own PLC dictionary, with 78,000 more detailed entries and over 20,000 example sentences (with Pinyin). More than two dozen other dictionaries are available as free and paid ($) add-ons, including licensed titles from well-known publishers like Oxford, Longman, FLTRP, Tuttle, SLPH, and Commercial Press.

• Powerful merged search: look up words by Chinese characters, Pinyin (spaces / tones optional), or English, with support for wildcards and full-text search. And no need to tediously flip between all of those dictionaries to find a word - just type in your search term and instantly get a combined, frequency-sorted result list.

• Links and cross-references: easily look up character components, break down words into individual characters, look up lists of words containing a particular character, search across all dictionaries for example sentences containing a word, and even find synonyms / antonyms using our (experimental) free thesaurus add-on.

• Gorgeous typography: see it for yourself in our screenshots - we think we're one of the best-looking Chinese dictionaries around. Alternate Kai/Song/Xing-style Chinese fonts are also available ($).

• Mainland/HK/Taiwan-friendly: every part of Pleco supports both traditional and simplified characters, headword pronunciations can be shown in Zhuyin as well as in Pinyin, and we even support Cantonese search and display in our PLC dictionary.

• Audio: Hear Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations for words and example sentences using iOS' free built-in text-to-speech system. We also offer add-ons ($) with native-speaker Mandarin and Cantonese recordings, plus higher-quality Mandarin text-to-speech system options.

• Document Reader: bring in text from the clipboard and tap on words in it to instantly look them up. Upgrade ($) adds support for tap-lookups in text, HTML, DOC, DOCX, PDF, and EPUB files, and in embedded lyrics in songs and podcasts.

• OCR: look up words simply by pointing your device's camera at them, or by tapping on them in a still image. ($)

• Fullscreen handwriting: use your device's whole screen instead of just a little box. Extremely accurate and highly tolerant of stroke order mistakes. ($)

• Flashcards: create a card from any dictionary entry with a single button tap, import premade word lists, use advanced memorization techniques like SRS, and study in a variety of modes including fill-in-the-blanks handwriting and tone drills. ($)

• Stroke Order Diagrams: animations showing you how to draw each character; 500 characters for free, 28,000 in paid ($) version.

• User dictionaries: create new dictionary entries right on your device as you encounter new words. ($)

• Absolutely no ads.

We also offer famously excellent customer support and an active user community at And we're constantly working to make our products better; our sales and customer base have been growing for 15 years across 4 different mobile platforms. You can be confident that we'll still be fixing bugs and adding features for years to come.

Our paid add-ons can be transferred to other devices that link to your iTunes account just like any other paid iTunes content; simply install our free app, open up the "Add-ons" screen, and tap on the "Restore Purchases" button to activate your purchase on each device.

Please contact us at, via the form at, or using the in-app "Contact Support" command with any questions - we'll be delighted to hear from you.

What's New in Version 3.2.16

• Bug fixes. (among others: 不/一 tone sandhi now work correctly when reading headwords with our TTS add-ons)
• Hyperlinks now work correctly in Outlier dictionary usage notes - note that they still won't work in some entries until we update the Outlier database (should be in a few days).
• Full-width */? wildcard characters are now supported in searches.

New things to take a look at:
• Beta version of the long-awaited revamp to our PLC dictionary (the one built into our free app); you can download that for free in Add-ons. This is a *huge* upgrade, with 40,000 new entries, 12,000 new example sentences, parts of speech for most entries, and many thousands of corrections and bug fixes. We don't expect people will find any problems with this that are worse than the bugs in the old PLC, but we're doing a beta anyway just to be safe.
• New Outlier Mini dictionary, first early mini release of a major new Chinese-English dictionary of character etymology - paid add-on but with the price credited towards a purchase of the full Outlier dictionary once it's ready.
• Updates to many add-on dictionaries in "Add-ons."
• "New Century English-Chinese Dictionary" in Add-ons, a brand new (published in 2016), comprehensive (240k entries), example-rich (130k examples) English-to-Chinese dictionary based on the Collins corpus.
• Experimental Kai-style stroke order diagrams, free in Add-ons if you already own our stroke order add-on.
• More generous stroke order demo if you don't own that add-on yet - download that demo in Add-ons (of the original or the experimental Kai diagrams) and you can now see stroke order for several hundred common characters in the main dictionary.
• Our experimental OCR system update (coming officially in 4.0) - Settings / OCR / New OCR System - with a completely revamped motion detection system that should feel much less jittery than before.

As always, since the App Store resets our review average with every update, we'd really appreciate it if you'd leave another review - don't have to write anything, just the star button will do. We hate the fact that other developers put up nag screens asking for reviews, and would never do that ourselves, but reviews help us show up more prominently in search results, which leads to more users / more money to improve Pleco.


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Customer Reviews

I can't imagine how I ever did without it

The unbelievably excellent dictionary app keeps getting better. Basic dictionary is superb--- add on dictionaries cover the needs of basic students and seasoned Sinologists. Handles simplified and traditional character sets. You can search with either set. And you can lookup anything you find within a definition -- almost universal hyperlinks. If time would take me back 45 years ago when I began studies of Chinese I would take Pleco with me. It is my essential iPhone app.

Best app for learning Chinese

I have been studying Chinese for 4 years and graduated with a minor in Chinese languages at UCLA. I always used Pleco when studying Chinese. I love the multiple dictionaries with many example sentences of each word.

When I have had an issue with the app (only 2 minor issues in the past 5 years), I would email the developer and they would always get back to me within the same day and resolve the issue. They are very helpful and courteous. 5 stars for this app.

Awesome App 🐶

Trust me I have been using this since the Palm version and it's the best out there
Amazing app. Worth every penny. Awesome app. Nice job the support is really good too if you ever need it. This is the best Chinese dictionary in the world. I bought the OCR add on so I can use my camera to recognize characters and translate it to English or pinyin
If your thinking about if it's worth the price tag, It is for sure
Wow! the OCR can recognize Chinese characters and translate into English Thanks

Pleco Chinese Dictionary
View in iTunes
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • Free
  • Category: Reference
  • Updated:
  • Version: 3.2.16
  • Size: 109 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller:
Rated 9+ for the following:
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor

Compatibility: Requires iOS 9.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Customer Ratings

Current Version:
All Versions:

Top In-App Purchases

  1. Optical Character Recognizer$14.99
  2. Optical Character Recognizer (Educational Discount)$11.99
  3. Pleco Basic Bundle$29.99
  4. Full-screen Handwriting$9.99
  5. Pleco Basic Bundle (Educational Discount)$29.99
  6. Full-screen Handwriting (Educational Discount)$11.99
  7. Flashcard System (Educational Discount)$9.99
  8. Flashcard System$9.99
  9. Pleco Professional Bundle$79.99
  10. Pleco Professional Bundle (Educational Discount)$79.99