Looking at the 8 Best Chinese Dictionary To Use: + 9 Bonuses
While Google Translate is great for a simple translation, what if you want more than that? Such as more translation, example sentences, etc.
Finding any dictionary is not too hard, but finding the best Chinese dictionary is overwhelming with so much out there.
So, we have compiled a huge list of all the best English-Chinese dictionaries for you to use. We have also searched the internet for specialized/industry-specific Chinese English dictionaries for reference.
Let’s jump right in.
Key Chinese English dictionary features to consider
Many dictionaries have various ways in terms of their layout and features. While many of these dictionaries have many commonalities, a few key differences make one dictionary distinct from another.
Let’s take a look at them:
Bilingual Coverage: Of course, this feature has to be number one. Searching in English, Hanzi, or Pinyin will make or break the search function of any dictionary.
Pinyin and Tones: Pinyin is the transliteral pronunciation of Chinese characters with tone marks to help you correctly say them. Having these in any dictionary is a must if you want to improve your speaking ability.
Examples and Usage: Any dictionary should include how to use the word/phrase in any sentence properly. Context always helps you understand the meaning of the character.
Price: Think about the cost of any dictionary. Many online dictionaries offer a paid or free version.
Okay, now the next few features mostly pertain to online dictionaries, so let’s see what other offers are included:
Audio Pronunciation: This feature is something important that paper dictionaries cannot achieve. Having an audio pronunciation will help you hear how the word sounds and helps with your pronunciation.
Search Functionality: Consider whether you can search within your respective language, in Hanzi or Pinyin.
Stroke order: It can be a step-by-step image or stroke order animation. It will help you if you want to improve your Chinese writing skills.
Offline Access: Consider if you want to access your dictionary when you don’t have wifi. Some apps will let you download their dictionaries offline—a useful tool when traveling in areas with limited connectivity.
Mobile-Friendly: See if the site or app is compatible with your device. Many online dictionaries are mobile-friendly, allowing you to use their search function without downloading an app!
Top Online Chinese Dictionaries
These dictionaries are the perfect companion if you are trying to learn and memorize specific Chinese characters. Let’s work together to find what makes one stand out.
Pandanese’s Chinese dictionary
Pandanese’s newest feature is their online English-Chinese dictionary for you to use. Like any online dictionary, you can search in Chinese and English.
Pandanese’s dictionary stands out because after you search and click any Chinese words, you will get a mnemonic device to remember the meaning and reading of the hanzi and hear the pronunciation and character breakdown.
WrittenChinese’s dictionary is on this list because of how simple it is to use!
After searching for the Chinese character or vocabulary, you will automatically get the stroke order, pronunciation, and meaning. It's the perfect app for a quick translation.
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary home page
You’ve probably already heard of this intuitive online chinese dictionary: MDBG. They are unique because you can draw the characters with your mouse and search for a traditional or simplified Chinese word.
They have been praised for their accuracy and user-friendliness. Not only do you get characters and meanings associated with what you searched for, but you can also add it to the Skritter app and get example sentences to help you learn how to use the word correctly in a sentence.
Best Chinese Dictionary app to use
Another well-known English-to-Chinese dictionary you’ve most likely heard of. Don’t worry if you haven’t. Read on.
For Chinese learners, Pleco’s dictionary app is perfect for on-the-go. It has all the basic Chinese-to-English dictionary features. Still, its other features include a clipboard reader to quickly copy and paste characters and read sample sentences for you to get an understanding.
Their most popular extra feature is the optical character recognition (OCR) to scan Chinese with your phone, making it perfect for on-the-go translation.
Line Dictionary App
Line Dictionary home page
Have you ever heard of Line? Line is a messaging software similar to WhatsApp but with more added add-ons.
Think of Line Dictionary as an online MDBG because you can search in Chinese/English, with the draw function, example sentences for various uses, and audio pronunciation. A reliable chinese dictionary if you are a Line user.
Hanping’s Google play store
If you want to increase your Chinese vocabulary, look no further with Hanping.
When searching for any vocabulary, you can tag search words for you to study later. Think of these tags as a vocabulary list to look back on when studying. What’s cool is that you can customize the tag or follow the already programmed ones.
If you are looking for a Cantonese dictionary, they have one, too, for an additional price.
Physical Chinese dictionary books to consider
While online Chinese dictionaries are great for quick access, something hits differently when using a paper dictionary. We found two, but there are probably others you’ve used when expanding your Chinese vocabulary, either in school or with a private tutor.
Oxford Chinese Dictionary
Oxford Chinese Dictionary page example
We all know that the Oxford Dictionary is the dictionary for English definitions. But did you know the Oxford Chinese dictionary exists?
This dictionary is the most extensive and reliable out there. What’s even more impressive is that it can do both English-Chinese and Chinese-English, allowing anyone to learn each other respective languages.
Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary
Chinese-English visual dictionary page example
This dictionary is unique since it acts more like a visual dictionary diagram. This visual dictionary is best if your learning style leans toward the visual route.
It contains a full-color picture, a diagram that explains the definitions, and insights into Chinese culture.
Specialized Chinese dictionaries
Finding a specialized dictionary can be difficult, but struggle no more. We scanned all over the internet to find specific dictionaries for you to use as a reference for specific industries. Perfect for advanced learners wanting to expand their knowledge.
Chinese business dictionary:
Want to join the Chinese workforce? It’s essential to know these important terms in both the English words and Chinese characters. Take a look at which will help you the most.
Chinese Business Dictionary: An English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary With Pinyin
If you are familiar with English business terminology and want the Chinese translation, this book is for you. This dictionary has business terms for banking, accounting, taxes, etc. With over 9,000 words and phrases, this is the perfect business dictionary for you who want to work in the Chinese business industry.
Glossary for Financial Terms and Acronyms Merril Lynch
This glossary makes the perfect reference to find that specific term that needs to be translated. While it is not a full English-Chinese dictionary, it will let you quickly look up the Chinese translation for specific financial terms and acronyms. Additionally, it will provide you with a small explanation in English.
ATO’s Glossary of Common Tax Terms
Thanks to the Australian Taxation Office, they have provided a downloaded spreadsheet for you to reference for your tax purposes. Best part? With over 350 common tax terms used in Australia in over 34 languages translated! It is a valuable business vocabulary reference even if you are not in Australia.
Chinese medical dictionary:
If you want to go into the medical field in Chinese-speaking countries or better treat your Chinese-speaking patients, these dictionaries perfectly help you communicate diseases, suggested health changes, and body parts in Chinese.
If you need a quick translation, this dictionary is a possible go-to. This website aims to standardize Chinese between organizations from China and Taiwan, ensuring no mistranslation issues.
Search in English, Hanzi, or type in Pinyin to search for what you are looking for. Perfect for medical professionals, researchers, and students in medicine.
Dr. Dict’s 英汉医学词典, 英汉医学字典
This free English-Chinese dictionary is a great option as it does not only let you search medical terms but also biological and technological, resulting in over 638,000 entries!
You can also search in English, simplified Chinese, or traditional Chinese. The possibility of searching for your specific term is endless. Check them out!
Sun Yatsen Medical University’s English-Chinese Medical Dictionary
If you are looking for a physical medical dictionary in Chinese, this book is for you.
This English-Chinese Medical Dictionary has over 130,000 medical standardizations of Western and Chinese medicine as well as pronunciation, etymology, and context when these terms are used. A great comprehensive dictionary guide for you to keep forever
Technical Chinese dictionaries:
These technical dictionaries are essential resources for professionals, students, and enthusiasts in their respective fields, providing accurate translations and explanations of industry-specific terminology.
Check out Dr. Dict’s 英汉医学词典, 英汉医学字典 as they also have a good amount of technical terminology.
INIS Multilingual Thesaurus
INIS Multilingual Thesaurus search results
The International Nuclear Information System has a thesaurus database for you to use. Search in 8 languages for nuclear sciences, radications, mathematics, engineering, and other natural sciences. Bookmark this thesaurus for you to use.
Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms In English and Mandarin Chinese: Traditional Script
This English-Chinese dictionary is a valuable resource for those interested in computer science, programming, the internet, social media, law, security, etc.
It contains over 2000 words and acronyms commonly used in these fields. Additionally, it has Pinyin to help you pronounce any of these words. If you want to, you can request their sound files.
Mitsubishi Electric's FA terminology dictionary
Mitsubishi Electric offers its terminology dictionary for FA, or factory automation, which involves control systems, software, and technologies related to automation in the industrial process. It offers 19 different transitions as a PDF file. Keep this file safe for you to review.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best Chinese dictionary for beginners?
The best dictionary to help you memorize Chinese characters is Pandanese’s Chinese dictionary. Another great option is the Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary, which will give you an image of your learning.
What is the most accurate Chinese English dictionary?
With its reputation for accuracy and authority in language reference, the Oxford Chinese Dictionary stands out as one of the most reliable choices for those seeking precision and depth in their Chinese-English dictionary needs.
Taking advantage of online and physical dictionaries is a great resource for you to have when you want to expand your Chinese language. All these Chinese dictionaries are convenient, easy to use, and reliable. Which do you think is the best Chinese dictionary for you?
Tammy Dang is the project manager for Pandanese. She specializes in writing learning tips, educational resources, comparison articles, and content related to Chinese culture.