[Suggestions] ZH-ZH Dictionary and TTS Voice

Hi. I want to take my learning to the next level and I'm thinking about purchasing my first ZH-ZH dictionary. Could you guys advise me on which one to choose and why?

Xiandai Hanyu Guidan Cidian - Reliable, standard Chinese-Chinese dict with 71k entries (32€)
Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian - Chinese-Chinese dictionary with 110k entries (22€)
Hanyu Da Cidian - Massive, legendary historical Chinese-Chinese dict, 380k entries (55€)

Is it possible to change the default (the one that appears first) dictionary for flashcards (or for word browsing in general)? My idea is to use the new dictionary as the default (right now it's PLC the one that shows first and then tapping on the dictionary name will cycle through CC, LAC, MOE, etc.).

I'm also considering getting a new voice (Hong, Qiang, or Yafang). I already got extended audios, Hui and Liang. Do you think it's a good idea? Does it make a difference?

Hi Kaimi,

let me first paste in the excellent descriptions in the Add-ons part of Pleco, in case you haven't come across them:

xhd desc.jpg gf desc.jpg

I feel that the Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian is geared more towards native speakers of Chinese or people whose proficiency is already very high, with its shorter definitions mostly consisting of synonyms, and quotations from famous works of literature from the 19th and 20th centuries, whereas the Hanyu Guifan Cidian also has rather concise definitions, but more in sentence form and with common collocations, and therefore is more accessible to foreign learners who would like to get an idea of how a word is used without being able to draw on a very large vocabulary.

The Hanyu Dacidian is interesting only if you're planning on studying Old Chinese, as well. If you do, it is a good choice because it also contains about 95% of the Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian. (I'm not exactly sure about the 95%, but it should be most of the XHD.)

You can set the dictionary order in Settings > Manage Dictionaries. It applies to the entire app. If you wish to change old flashcards to the new dictionary, you could search for them in Organize Flashcards and assign the new Chinese-to-Chinese dictionary to them after you've installed it.

On the voices: It certainly is a good idea to get some of those, my favorite Female TTS Voice is Hong, and my favorite Male TTS Voice is Qiang. Qiang is my overall favorite, he has a very pleasant voice and also good pronunciation.

Hope this helps,

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Hi Shun,

I appreciate your detailed reply. Hanyu Guifan Cidian is my choice then. I will buy the Professional Bundle upgrade, as it includes it and five more dictionaries for the same price. I'm a bit afraid of feeling overwhelmed with five new EN-ZH dictionaries. What is your priority order? Do you mind sharing your experience with these dictionaries? I read Tuttle is great. Do you hide or uninstall any? I'd love reading your suggestions or preferred settings. Your help is very useful. I didn't quite understand the part of assigning the new dictionary to the old flashcards, because with thousands of cards I can't do it one by one, ideally all cards would show the new dictionary as default instead of PLC. Hiding dictionaries from flashcards would be useful with so many dictionaries, showing them only on dictionary/popup.

Thank you for the suggestions, I've been listening to the HQ samples and it's true that these voices are pleasant and with good pronunciation. I'm tempted...
Hi Kaimi,

I presume you’re from Germany, so we could almost switch to German. ;) (No, the forum language is English.)

Thanks for your praise. However, the fact that I have a particular set of settings doesn’t mean that they’re the best settings for everyone. So I suggest you just try around, get acquainted with the app, and find out which settings suit you best. Otherwise, you may have the comfort of knowing that „Shun has the same settings.“, but the disadvantage of not really knowing the app yourself.

That said, I do give a little 4-hour Pleco course at the Uni of Zurich every year, so when I‘ll have the newest course materials ready with all the tips and tricks (in German), I could send it to you (and anyone who asks) by PM.

There’s no risk of feeling overwhelmed by too many dictionaries, you just put the ones you use the most at the top. As to my opinion on every single dictionary, I’d just say they’re all good. Each has a slightly different scope, but you can find that out by looking at the Add-ons screens. Should you have some particular questions about one or two dictionaries, I’d gladly try to answer them.

You don’t need to hide any dictionaries for Flashcards, you will see just one at a time. For reassigning the existing flashcards to the Guifan dictionary, you just go into the Batch screen, choose “Apply changes to All Cards” and further down, Remap to the new dictionary. If you google for „pleco manual“, you should quickly discover it, as well.

Yeah, go ahead and buy the new voices. :)
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Haha, interesting presumption! I'm not actually, I'm from Spain. I'd love to have your course materials, even if my German level is low (my Erasmus years ago was in Karlsruhe but didn't keep up with my German learning), they will still be very useful.

Thank you for your suggestion. You are right. I will try to learn the app by myself. The best thing to do is just download and start getting used to them. I got the bundle and I'm already so amazed by it and happy with all the new inputs!


Looking soooo fresh!! Pretty excited to dive into all of this.

I still have some doubts about the flashcard "Remap to dictionary" setting

and after I hit "Remap now" it shows these messages

I tried choosing don't ask again and "skip card". So I guess it's like leaving the default?
What does "rebuild flashcards from their linked dictionary entries" mean?

Thanks again for your kind help :)
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OK, so I got it wrong, apologies. :) Nice country! Would you like to get the somewhat incomplete course materials already now, or wait until end of September when they should be finished up? They already have a lot of information, so I'd be glad to send them to you already now.

Cool! The error you encountered on remapping the cards is to be expected, because there sometimes are multiple definitions for one headword and pinyin. You can choose "Select entry" and "Don't ask again", which will always pick the first choice. If you choose "skip card", the card will remain with one of the Chinese-English dictionaries.

On your last question, that's what it says in the manual: "The Rebuild from dict entries option updates all dictionary-linked flashcards’ headwords and Pinyin pronunciations to match those in the dictionary entries they link to; this is useful after a dictionary is updated, since there may occasionally be corrections to specific characters, Pinyin tones, etc." So you would pick this option when a dictionary is updated and you want to make sure the flashcards reflect all the changes.

You're very welcome! Reading the manual, trying things out on the side, and searching in the forums, I'm sure you will benefit greatly from Pleco.
Yes please send it now!
Right! I got it now. wow, the flashcards are a new dimension now!
Okay, I rebuilt from dict entries, but I never really notice when a dictionary is updated, so I'll do it sometimes.
Oh yes, enjoying the ride!
Excellent! Good Night! It's quite rare that a dictionary gets updated, so you can do it after you see an update in Add-ons.
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This Hanyu Da Cidian is the reputed best dictionary for learning Chinese, yes? If so, I thought I read somewhere here a long time ago that Pleco was unable to partner with them regarding licensing... Or am I thinking of another dictionary?

@Shun - You mentioned the above dictionary would be suited to foreigners with a very high proficiency of Chinese already. What would you say fits this criteria? HSK 6, OPI 3, or some other assessment level?


Staff member
We did partner with them, but it's not really a learner's dictionary, no - it's a historical dictionary, one that covers lots of obscure words and charts their usage over time. Somewhat equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary for English.
Hi Chin,

@Shun - You mentioned the above dictionary would be suited to foreigners with a very high proficiency of Chinese already. What would you say fits this criteria? HSK 6, OPI 3, or some other assessment level?
For learning Modern Chinese, the Hanyu Da Cidian isn't really ideal, as it spans (almost) the entire history of Chinese literature and language. Its explanations are in Modern Chinese, but the subject matter is mostly much older, as Mike says. If you wish to learn Modern Chinese, you are much better served by any of the Modern Chinese dictionaries. If you wish to gain expertise in Old Chinese, then the Hanyu Da Cidian will be interesting for you.

Hope this helps,

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Are there any specific examples that you can think of where having the Hanyu Da Cidian would be essential for understanding an older text (ie reading 阿Q正傳, or some other older text)?

I thinking of purchasing it along with the professional upgrade bundle but I need specific justification for purchasing it.
I haven't used it in quite a while, so you'll have to ask someone else to be sure. I think for Classical Chinese (I mean the one from 100-200 years back), the Hanyu Da Cidian should indeed be useful—just maybe not essential, as the other dictionaries also reach back into Classical Chinese.