Pleco Chinese Dictionary 9+

Handwriting, OCR, flashcards

Pleco Inc.

    • Free
    • Offers In-App Purchases



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 offer two free built-in dictionaries: the popular open-source CC-CEDICT, with over 110,000 frequently-updated entries, and our own PLC dictionary, with 125,000 entries, parts of speech, and over 25,000 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, and search across all dictionaries for example sentences containing a word.

• 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 ($).

• PRC/HK/Taiwan-friendly: every part of Pleco supports both traditional and simplified, headword readings can be shown in Pinyin and Zhuyin, and some dictionaries even support Cantonese. (note: stroke order diagrams do support traditional characters, but use PRC order)

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

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

• 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. (enhanced $)

• 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. ($)

• 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 two decades across 4 different platforms. You can be confident that we'll still be fixing bugs and adding features for years to come.

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

Version 3.2.74

Bug fixes.

Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

naktvwatcher ,

Revolutionized my study of Chinese…again

I read a lot of obscure texts, and Pleco makes all the difference. It helps me look up words fast, then quickly create flashcards to build new words into my vocabulary. The one thing I regret is that for the past few years I cheaped out on dictionaries, and didn’t buy many of them. My reasoning was that since I had paper versions of them, why buy the electronic versions? Big mistake. This month I bought the Grand Ricci, the Hanyu Da Cidian, the Chengyu dictionary—well, basically all of the big ones. I’m really glad I did. When you read a text, it finds complex compounds that you would never think to look up in a bigger dictionary. So, if you use Chinese in your profession, get Pleco and buy those dictionaries. Oh, here’s some dictionaries I wish it had: Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles; Brunnert and Hagelstrom, Present Day Political Organization of China.

Update: still love it like crazy. I really also would still very much like to see Brunnert and Hagelstrom (which is in the public domain) and Hucker.

Lately I've really gotten into working systematically with flash cards. It's a great feature!

JimothyTwoTeeth, MD ,

Best app I’ve ever purchased

I bought the Basic Add-on Bundle about 3 years ago. I bought it while in China purely for the OCR reader, and didn’t give much thought to the other add-one. Since then, I’ve continued learning Mandarin in my free time and I’ve come to realize one thing; when I’m studying, this app is absolutely irreplaceable. Even when I’m studying using a completely different resource, I always have this app pulled up. Even when I’m not studying, I find myself pulling up the app at least a couple times per day. I have got so much use out of it that I have no doubt in mind that it was money well spent. I’ve used it for hours upon hours, for years, and for what? For a ONE TIME payment of like $30 or w/e? Wish I didn’t buy it just so I could go buy it again lol (jk, to be clear)

I could go on and on about the numerous sweet functions, but I don’t want to write a novel. I do have to give the flash card add-on a special shout out, though. It’s much better than ANY dedicated flash card app (yes, including anki!)

If you’re even remotely considering buying the full version of this, DO IT. I 100% guarantee you won’t regret it.

Shep OC ,

If serious, get it, give them your money

I studied in China for a year, at this point I think I’m almost at an HSK 5 level (out of 6), and honestly I think I owe that to Pleco. I don’t know where I would be without this thing. I bought the professional bundle, it’s super easy to look up words and get a bunch of examples, add to Flashcards and test yourself in a variety of different ways, they even have a BUILT IN WEB BROWSER where I can find any Chinese article I want, tap on words I don’t know, and immediately it pulls up a little definition of it on the web page. And then I can add it to my Flashcards from there. It’s AWESOME.

Also they have a ton of short stories (“graded readers”) and abridged Chinese classics fit to different levels of students (500 words, 1000 words, etc.) to help your reading comprehension.

If you’re serious about studying Chinese, you are making your life significantly harder by not getting this app. I just wish they had an equivalent for other languages 😢

In-App Purchases

Basic Bundle
Basic Bundle
Discounted pack of our most popular add-ons.
Professional Bundle
Professional Bundle
Larger set of features plus 6 dictionaries.

App Privacy

The developer, Pleco Inc., indicated that the app’s privacy practices may include handling of data as described below. For more information, see the developer’s privacy policy.

Data Not Linked to You

The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:

  • Purchases
  • Identifiers
  • Diagnostics

Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More

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