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Pleco Chinese Dictionary

By Pleco Software

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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: iOS 7 users can take advantage of the free built-in Mandarin and Cantonese TTS system to hear pronunciations for words and example sentences. 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; over 20,000 characters are covered. ($)

• 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 12 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 3.2.4

• Lots and lots and lots of bug fixes, including (we think) a fix for those "Flashcards Inaccessible" errors on startup.
• Vertical scrolling support for PDF documents. (Settings / Reader).
• Automatic PDF page rotation detection in OCR.
• "Hex" button in the color picker to let you specify hexadecimal colors.
• Slightly slower speeds for the built-in free text-to-speech option.
• Stroke counts in the "Radical" header in CHARS.
• Long-press search result "Copy Head" menu option.
• List of tagged categories at the bottom of the flashcard duplicate prompt.

NOTE: you might experience a crash if resuming a flashcard session in this version of Pleco that was saved with the previous version - if so, simply start a new session and the software should behave normally again. (sorry about that - we're adding code in our next update to make sure this never happens again)

Lots of really cool new stuff in the works for this year, including major flashcard / OCR revamps, a massively updated version of our PLC dictionary database (with parts of speech!) and a bevy of UI improvements, plus a couple of totally new things we're keeping secret for now.

As always, since Apple 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 deplore 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

Best App

I have never reviewed an app before, but I decided my first review might as well be the app that I can't live without. I began learning Chinese at the Defense Language Institute and was encouraged to use this app. It turned out being the single most useful resource during my Chinese learning journey! I have used this app nearly every day for the past 3 years, even after graduation! This app is well laid out and easy to use - it also has no required purchases. I'm sure most serious learners, like me, will end up buying some of the add-ons because they're just so useful! For example, the optical character recognizer saves so much time by allowing you to use your camera to identify characters instead of having to draw every character you don't know. Hands down the best app you will ever find for learning Chinese - I don't think anyone who is learning Chinese (or wants to learn Chinese) should be without this app.

Say Goodbye to All Those Dog-Eared Chinese Dictionaries, Say Hell to Pleco

I have never written a review for any product on the app store. However, having been saved an unbelievable amount of times by this app, from Chinese class to the streets of Taiwan, I think it’s about time I put in my two cents. This app is life changing. Beautifully organized, well-run (the app-creator has personally responded to any problems I’ve had within 24-hours), and now easier to use than ever.

If you study Mandarin or Cantonese, Pleco is the most simple, navigable, comprehensive, and straight-forward app you can get. The core features make finding characters, pinyin, or English words incredibly easy, and the add-ons (notably the optical character recognizer) are powerful. Sometimes I feel like an advertisement for this company because I’ve suggested it to so many people but, whatever, these guys deserve it.

Hats off.

Amazing Tool For Learning Chinese

This app has been the single most helpful tool in my studies of Chinese. Obviously a program like this won't get you to fluency alone, but for learning characters it can't be beat. Spend the extra money to get the flash cards and the stroke order diagram if nothing else. I use it literally every day and have learned an impressive amount of characters in a relatively short time.

Even if you're not studying the language but living in a Chinese speaking country, you still need to get it just for the dictionary. It's crazy easy to instantly look up words on the spot, which has been indispensable since I've been in China. A must download if you live in China, Taiwan, etc.

Pleco Chinese Dictionary
View In iTunes
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • Free
  • Category: Reference
  • Updated:
  • Version: 3.2.4
  • Size: 89.0 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller:
Rated 9+ for the following:
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor

Compatibility: Requires iOS 7.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

Customer Ratings

Current Version:
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Top In-App Purchases

  1. Optical Character Recognizer (Educational Discount)$11.99
  2. Optical Character Recognizer$14.99
  3. Pleco Basic Bundle (Educational Discount)$29.99
  4. Full-screen Handwriting (Educational Discount)$11.99
  5. Flashcard System (Educational Discount)$9.99
  6. Full-screen Handwriting$14.99
  7. Flashcard System$14.99
  8. Pleco Basic Bundle$39.99
  9. Pleco Professional Bundle (Educational Discount)$79.99
  10. Stroke Order Diagrams (Educational Discount)$7.99