Dictionary Comparison/hierarchies: Which dictionary add-ons have the least overlap with Pleco free dictionaries + professional bundle dictionaries?

Dictionary Comparison/hierarchies: Which dictionary add-ons have the least overlap with Pleco free dictionaries and/or professional bundle dictionaries? Would it be worthwhile to get another one or two on top of the bundle?

I would love as much objective data points as possible but am open to the help of subjective opinions and conjecture.

I'm considering adding a few dictionaries for ease of translation and I'm curious which dictionary/dictionaries may offer the best compliments to what is already included in the free dictionary add-ons as well as the dictionaries included in the professional bundles. I am more interested in translations from Chinese - English, and also willing/able to work with Chinese-Chinese dictionaries.

I think the question can be answered well in a general manner of overlap of unique entries, but this could be possibly relevant in suggesting one over the other: My purpose is in reading/translating fiction and nonfiction (especially academic) books for personal interest and learning. (I'll be flagging a lot of the new words for flashcards to slowly improve) The academic books will be primarily written by Ge A Gan, and the specialized vocabulary that of possible topics of mythology, history, anthropology, ethnography, astronomy, religion, rituals, and Buddhism + Bon, etc. is part of my consideration for taking on a few extra add-ons, so to increase translation accuracy. I've already added the free Buddhism and Chinese-Chinese dictionaries which have helped a lot - even with epic/wuxia novels -, furthering my consideration)

Also of note: I realize the etymology component makes the Outlier dictionary unique regardless and I am tempted by that. I am also curious of the idioms dictionary - does it offer something to differentiate it from the other C-C/C-E dictionaries?
I do, also, have a number of ebooks and dictionaries for translation itself, but am looking for an ease of interface between robust dictionaries and flashcards for learning.

Any other recommendations toward the general purpose of reading Chinese language writings in a topic/genre of interest to build skill in comprehension/translating are welcome.

For ease of reference:

Free dictionaries:
- Pleco C-E
- UniHan Character
- Buddhist Terms
- MOEDICT historical C-C dict from Taiwan
- Adsotrans C-E (200,000 entries)
- Wiseman Chinese Med Terms C-E
- Babel Carp Chinese Terms
- Cross-Strait Chinese dictionary (C-C of Taiwan differences)
- LDC E-C worldist

Professional Bundle Dictionary content:
  • ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary ($19.99)
  • ABC English-Chinese Dictionary ($9.99)
  • Xiandai Hanyu Guifan Cidian ($29.99)
  • New Century English-Chinese Dictionary ($29.99)
  • Oxford Chinese Dictionary ($19.99)
  • Tuttle Learner's Chinese-English Dictionary ($9.99)
Other dictionary options listed in the 'buy now' page (Skipping the beginner dictionaries, in part as the Oxford is included in the bundle as well as having been noted to have a lot of overlap w the PLC dictionary as they're both based on New Century):

NWP English-Chinese Dictionary - $9.99
English-Chinese dictionary designed specifically for learners of Chinese as a second language, featuring 23,000 entries with excellent Pinyin annotation and lots of examples.
KEY Chinese-English Dictionary - $19.99
Up-to-date and very comprehensive Chinese-English dictionary with over 280,000 entries (but no examples); adapted from the PC software of the same name.

Longman Advanced Chinese Dictionary - $19.99
Traditional-character-only Chinese-Chinese dictionary from Hong Kong with 46,000 entries; not explicitly for Cantonese, but with good coverage of a lot of vocabulary you don't often see in mainland dictionaries. (Not sure if the traditional character could still translate the simplified characters, given I've generally seen dictionaries will give the alternative writing system, and I haven't worked with a one-system-only dictionary before)

Duogongneng Chengyu Cidian - $19.99
Chinese-Chinese dictionary with detailed information on about 8000 Chengyu. This is a "multifunction"dictionary, so along with definitions it includes synonyms, antonyms, historical quotes, usage notes, comparisons with similar Chengyu, etc.

Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters (Mini Edition) - $9.99
"Mini Version" of Outlier's brand new Chinese character etymology dictionary, with component breakdowns for more than 2000 common characters and more detailed etymological info on the ~250 characters that appear in those breakdowns as semantic components.
Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters (Essentials Edition) - $29.99 --
"Essentials" version of Outlier's brand new Chinese character etymology dictionary, with component breakdowns for 2000 common characters and more detailed etymological info on 1000 of those.
Xiandai Hanyu Dacidian - $19.99
Chinese-Chinese dictionary with 110k entries

Specialized Dictionaries
Military Mandarin Lexicon
- $9.99 - (while there might be military components to these books, I don't think they'll require this level of specialization)
Brand new (2017) Chinese-English reference of military terminology used by the PRC's Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese - $39.99 (I am tempted, even though it may not be the most relevant)
Chinese-English dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, covering language from the Warring States Period through the Tang dynasty. 9500 single-character entries. Traditional only.
Gu Hanyu Da Cidian - $19.99
Classical / Old Chinese dictionary with about 54,000 entries. (definitions are in modern Chinese, not English)
Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine - $49.99
Bidirectional (Chinese-English and English-Chinese) Traditional Chinese Medicine reference by Nigel Wiseman, with detailed information on about 6700 terms.

Hanyu Da Cidian - $49.99
The legendary historical Chinese-Chinese dictionary, with approximately 380,000 entries and extensive citations. NOTE: definitions are in simplified characters only and most quotations are in traditional.

ABC Dictionary of Chinese Proverbs - $19.99
Meanings + explanations of 4000 Chinese proverbs (?? yanyu)

(Leaving these for posterity but I am not really considering cantonese-specific as helpful to my purpose)
Guangzhouhua Fangyan Cidian - $9.99
Chinese-Chinese dictionary of Cantonese-specific vocabulary with approximately 8000 entries, from Commercial Press.
ABC Cantonese Dictionary - $29.99
Brand new (published in 2017) Cantonese-to-English dictionary, the first new one in several decades; featuring 16,000 Cantonese-specific vocabulary entries and a whopping 15,000 Cantonese example sentences (all with Jyutping/Yale pronunciation). Edited by Robert S. Bauer and produced by Wenlin Institute.
Guangzhouhua-Putonghua Cidian - $9.99
Cantonese-to-Mandarin (focused on diffs between them), 10k entries
The Right Word in Cantonese - $9.99
English-to-Cantonese dictionary focused on idiomatic translations; 6500 entries



Hi OdinsMemory,

if you already have all the free dictionaries and have bought the Professional Bundle, I would say subjectively (an objective measure of dictionary overlap isn't easy to obtain, since that would probably require extracting the dictionary data from the app) that the KEY Chinese-English dictionary has the most distinct translations—and often good ones—where all the other dictionaries fail. Its definitions may look short because they lack example sentences, but their number is quite large at 287,000, and they seem independently sourced.

I don't know your level, but I'd like to caution that since dictionaries can only tell you the meanings of words and expressions, not of entire sentences or even longer text units, one could say they only make up half of what's needed to understand Chinese texts properly. The other half lies in your language intuition and pattern recognition abilites. To develop these, for one thing, it helps to have a completely open mind for how things are expressed in Chinese, and for another thing, it's important to stick to good learning materials with simplified texts to slowly build up your feeling for how the language is constructed, and only then move to more real-life materials. That is because you often can't guess the precise meaning of more complicated texts—you may be able to get a roundabout meaning, but not the precise meaning. In a way, (Chinese) language learning is similar to climbing a flight of stairs or a mountain. As long as you make sure you're taking steps of a safe height and keep consolidating what you've learned, you can climb higher and higher. Otherwise, incorrect knowledge may settle, and the motivation generally goes down because you're never quite sure of what you're learning.

Do you agree with this point of view?




oh! thanks for the reminder. I wanted to add the KEY dictionary to my dictionaries.

@OdinsMemory, I have purchased several of the dictionaries and I expect a lot of overlap. Where I find it useful is when I am creating a flashcard, I'll browse all the dictionaries to find the one with the "best" definition for me and assign that entry to the card. The more dictionaries I have, the better my choices are.

Also, purchasing a new dictionary every year or two for the price of a few coffee's is not really such a big deal. It doesn't make my phone any heavier and lastly, it helps Mike, so there's that.