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12 Best Chinese Dictionaries (Online, Apps & Books) in 2024

12 Best Chinese Dictionaries (Online, Apps & Books) in 2024

    Chinese is a challenging language, so no matter you’re just getting started on your Chinese learning journey or have been an avid student of the language for years, you’ll need a reliable Chinese dictionary to help enrich your vocabulary. As is the case with most media in the 21st century, Chinese dictionaries come in two formats: physical and online App. Both versions have their benefits, online dictionaries are generally quicker and more convenient when it comes to helping you gain the Mandarin knowledge you need, exactly when you need it, but if you ever plan to study at a university in China, you’ll find that smartphones and laptops are often forbidden in classrooms, so paper dictionaries are often more welcome. Here are the 10 best Chinese dictionaries(online, Apps & books) in 2024, you can choose the one that meets your need.


Top Online Chinese Dictionaries

1. Pleco Chinese Dictionary

Official Site:

》》iOS User Download

》》Android User Download

Pleco is one of the most popular English-Chinese dictionaries and is considered to be a sacred resource by CLI team members. Once you download Pleco on your phone, you have the option to use it to almost its full extent within the free version. Pleco allows users to look up words by simply typing the English, Chinese characters, or pinyin (no tone marks necessary) into the search bar. A database of useful results appears, ranked in order of most commonly used entries.


In addition to Pleco’s basic dictionary function, some of the app’s most functional elements are the handy extra features you’ll find located in the left-hand sidebar, such as the clipboard reader. To utilize the clipboard reader, just copy a chunk of text (from a WeChat message, for example) and paste it into the reader box. Then, as you can along, simply tap any characters you don’t understand and the pinyin/definitions will automatically pop up!

While the basic version of Pleco is free, the app also hosts several paid add-ons, including OCR (optical character recognizer), flashcards, document reader, and a variety of dictionaries, such as Hanyu Da Cidian or Cheng & Tsui English-Chinese Lexicon of Business Terms. 

2. Hanping Chinese Dictionary Lite

Official Site:

》》Not Available on IOS

》》Android User Download

The Hanping Dictionary app, currently only available for Android users, is another helpful Chinese-English lexicon that’s roughly comparable to Pleco.In addition to a basic dictionary, the free version, known as “Hanping Lite,” features a handwriting recognition tool, audio pronunciation by a native speaker, and an impressive database of example sentences for each word. If you want a more advanced version of the app, Hanping has paid options, too. For a fee, the “Hanping Pro” version includes a tone-pair soundboard to help users practice pronouncing tones and flashcards as supported by Anki, one of our favorite flashcard apps.


For your everyday translation needs, the free version is enough. One thing that makes Hanping special is its idioms dictionary. Finally, in addition to HSK and YCT exams dictionaries, a conversational one is also included. There’s a little bit of a drawback there, though—Hanping only translates words, so if you need a whole sentence translator, this one won’t be the one. 

3. MDBG Chinese Dictionary

Official Site:

MDBG Dictionary is a very practical dictionary designed mainly for foreign Chinese learners. The interface is nice, clean, loads quickly, and is easy to navigate. Both traditional and simplified Chinese are available.  It offers lots of data are provided about the characters, with stroke animations that show the characters stroke by stroke and character decomposition. You can search almost everything: single characters, words, pinyin, English, of course, and look up words by character components, Cangjie input method, and more. You can also ask for Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciation.


In addition,  you can draw characters with your mouse to look them up, and that’s pretty awesome! It’s handy when you come across a character you neither know how to pronounce or what it means. There is a new feature is the “Lookup All Chinese Words in a Text” option, which shows the meaning of each Chinese word in a text you upload. The +: you can choose the mouse over the translation option to highlight definitions as you’re reading. Another useful feature this Chinese dictionary for foreigners offers is that it lets you test your knowledge of Chinese characters through quizzes or flashcards. Additionally, MDBG can help you improve your vocabulary by subscribing to their web feed and having the chance to learn up to 10 new words per day.

4. Google Translate

Official Site:

》》iOS User Download

》》Android User Download

I believe that everyone knows of Google Translate.  This online dictionary is completely free and includes a complimentary handwriting tool. It supports 103 languages online (typing only) and 59 languages offline. Google Translate won’t help you browse and compare words to find the most nuanced, accurate definition, but it will help you gain a quick, direct comprehension of the target text no matter how long or short. You can also use your camera to translate things like road signs and dinner menus. There is even a two-way conversation translation feature in 32 languages.


Google Translate is the multilingual dictionary of choice for foreigners and locals alike in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Chinese-speaking areas with Internet freedom. But keep in mind that Google Translate will do exactly the bare minimum - translate. If you want an actual dictionary with sentence examples and in-depth definitions, maybe this shouldn't be the only app on your phone.

5. Ninchanese

Official Site:

》》Not Available on IOS

》》Android User Download

Ninchanese dictionary has been made with Chinese learners in mind. The design is very clean and neat. It has everything you need to understand a Chinese character's meaning and how to use it.


The following are Ninchanese dictionary features:

  • Gamified learning to have fun while learning;

  • Adaptative and personalized learning, so you only move on when you’re ready;

  • Engaging bite-sized stages to learn bit by bit;

  • Built for beginners and advanced learners alike;

  • Play and compete with your friends with the Ninchallenge;

  • Learn new words and sentences patterns for good thanks to Spaced Repetition;

  • Chat to learn Chinese with fun dialogues;

  • Easy to start speaking Chinese: get instant feedback on your pronunciation with and tips to improve
    Learn Chinese Mandarin in Simplified characters. Traditional characters accessible in beta (get in touch to get access);

  • Play and practice Chinese Mandarin everywhere, on your Computer, Tablet or Phone;

  • A high quality of TTS voice, authentic Chinese learning material and cultural content;

  • Traditional and simplified built-in Chinese Dictionary, with hand-drawn Chinese character order animations;

  • Pass the HSK: prepare level 1 to level 5 of the Chinese exam;

  • No ads - learn Chinese Character Mandarin free.

6. LINE Dictionary

Official Site:

》》iOS User Download

》》Android User Download

Formerly known as Nciku, Line Dict is another web-based Chinese-English dictionary. It is easy to navigate—there are only three main sections: Dictionary, Translator, and Today’s Expressions. So what makes this Chinese online dictionary so great? Examples, examples, examples.  As all language learners know, understanding the definition of a word is only half the battle; understanding how to use the word in context is equally important. When looking up a word in the toolbar, choose to search for the word’s definition or usage examples. Line Dict will bring up hundreds and sometimes even thousands of authentic example sentences, complete with audio to help aid your memory.


Like the previous dictionaries in the list, LINE has handwriting recognition, pronunciations, and translations (characters, English words, pinyin). On top of that, though, LINE will help you speak by providing you with tons of context. Additionally, the Line Dict homepage features daily expressions, quotes and 成语 (chéngyǔ, four-character Chinese idioms), making it even more convenient for you to learn new, genuine expressions without spending extra time seeking them out.

7. YellowBridge

Official Site:

YellowBridge is a simple, intuitive online Chinese dictionary. Depending on your translation needs, you can choose to type (or copy and paste) your Chinese character, handwrite it with this dictionary’s writing tool, type pinyin or an English word. Another option is to look up characters by radicals or their components.


In fact, YellowBridge can help you with more than just its dictionary. If you want to learn and practice Chinese, try its flashcards, animated stroke order of characters tool, or memory games. Yellow Bridge is also a good place to learn a bit about Chinese culture and its literature, mysticism, and other things.

Top Chinese Dictionaries books

1. Oxford Chinese Dictionary / Edition 1

Price$75 from Barnes & Noble

By far the largest, most authoritative and up-to-date single-volume Chinese-English and English-Chinese dictionary in print, the Oxford Chinese Dictionary is the result of a remarkable collaboration of scholars working in Oxford, Hong Kong, and mainland China. It has been produced using the latest lexicographic methods and is based on research in both the Oxford English Corpus and the LIVAC corpus from the City University of Hong Kong. It comes with over 300,000 words and phrases and 370,000 translations, including the latest vocabulary from computing, business, the media, and the arts, as well as tens of thousands of example phrases illustrating key points of construction and usage.


All the Chinese headwords are shown with Pinyin and tones, so that the learner of Chinese can pronounce each one correctly. Chinese headwords are given in simplified Chinese characters but traditional Chinese character versions are also given in brackets when they differ from the simplified form. All other characters in the dictionary, such as compounds and examples, are shown in simplified characters. The Chinese-English section of the dictionary is organized alphabetically by Pinyin and there is also a radical index which allows you to look up a character without knowing its Pinyin form. Authoritative and comprehensive, and packed with helpful features, this ground-breaking dictionary is an indispensable reference for any serious student of Mandarin Chinese or English as well as professionals and translators.

2. Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (Paperback)

Price: $11.74 with up to 4% cashback from Walmart

If you've just started your Chinese lessons and are a visual learner, you have to get this dictionary.It features comprehensive definitions and colorful images of daily life, helping you appreciate the nuances of the language and master pronunciation. You can keep the Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Dictionary by your side as you shop, eat, socialize, travel, and work. With more than 10,000 fully illustrated terms arranged by theme and an easy-to-use audio app guiding you, learning and retaining key terms is simple. Inside you'll discover key nouns, verbs, and phrases, and a detailed index for instant reference.


If you want to buy this book, Sign up at Extrabux first(What is Extrabux?), then book through, So you can enjoy up to 4% cashback from Extrabux! Sign-Up Bonus: Free to join it & get a $20 welcome bonus!

Simplified Chinese characters, along with clear instructions for accurate pronunciation in the Pinyin accent, help you further enhance your Mandarin reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. From names of dishes and seasons of the year to parts of the body and furniture around the house, find everything at your fingertips with this practical and stimulating dictionary. Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, remember to pack this comprehensive yet accessible bilingual dictionary.

3. English-Chinese Chinese-English Dictionary

Price: $25.29 with up to 5% cashback from Abebooks

The "New Edition English-Chinese-Chinese-English Dictionary" (2nd edition) compiled by the editorial department of the International Business Dictionary of Foreign Languages consists of two parts: English-Chinese and Chinese-English. The English and Chinese parts are closely linked to the new English textbooks, the new English syllabus promulgated by the State Education Commission, and the "English Vocabulary for College Entrance Examination" edited by the State Education Commission Examination Center, and combined with the actual needs of students' classroom learning and extracurricular reading, more than 8,000 words are selected, plus There are 12,000 words in the above derivatives and compound words. The explanation item provides items such as pronunciation, part of speech, definition, usage, collocation, identification of synonyms (synonyms), example sentences, derivatives, and compound words. Among them, the definition, usage and collocation of words are particularly detailed.


The Chinese-English part is based on the actual use needs of students in study, life, and social interaction, and a total of more than 18,000 words are selected. English interpretation, translation, etc. all strive to be simple and clear, easy to understand, in order to facilitate readers' learning and mastery. The dictionary is simple and practical, easy to consult, and has the remarkable features of complete functions.

4. Tuttle Learner's Chinese-English Dictionary: Revised Second Edition [Fully Romanized]

Price: $5.09 with up to 3% cashback from ThriftBooks

This Mandarin Chinese Dictionary is for elementary to intermediate learners of Chinese Tuttle Learner's Chinese-English Dictionary is a totally new dictionary designed specifically for elementary to intermediate learners of Chinese and contains all 3,051 vocabulary items prescribed for Levels A and B of the internationally recognized test of Mandarin language proficiency, Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK). This self-contained dictionary has over 5,000 headwords--those required for HSK Levels A and B, plus important proper nouns and common idioms. Extensive notes on culture, grammar and meaning are included to enhance understanding and ensure correct usage.


Students attempting to learn Chinese will find this dictionary to be an essential guide to the Chinese language as well as a reliable reference tool. This Chinese dictionary contains: The 5,000+ most frequently used Chinese vocabulary items. All entries contain Romanized Chinese forms ( hanyu pinyin ), simplified Chinese characters ( hanzi ) as well as traditional Chinese characters if they exist. Terms are searchable by Chinese-English or English-Chinese. All Chinese entries are arranged alphabetically by Romanized Mandarin Chinese forms ( hanyu pinyin ). Chinese word components are listed and analyzed to facilitate understanding. Over 3,500 sample sentences to demonstrate how each word is used. Detailed notes on culture, grammar and usage. Chinese translations for common English names and places in China.

5. Xinhua Dictionary (Chinese Edition)

Price$17.99 from Amazon

The third edition of the 'Xinhua Dictionary' is the latest revision after the 'Common Standard Chinese Characters Table' was published. This dictionary is a Chinese-Chinese dictionary, so it is only recommended for intermediate and advanced students of Chinese. As the brand bestseller published by the China Publishing Group, it strictly implements the national language standards and comprehensively reflects the national character adoption standards.


This book is a collection of 14587 individual characters, including 8105 characters in the 'Common Standard Chinese Characters Table'. It contains seven sections and fourteen functional items. There are also attributes of Chinese characters, phonetic transcriptions, and explanation of meanings, character foliations, the four styles of Chinese calligraphy, character origins, differentiation, and analysis as well as illustrations.

2022-01-14 19:521804