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The nciku Chinese dictionary for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch lets you look up Chinese and English words when you’re out and about, giving you translations, pinyin, examples and stroke order animations, as well as letting you listen to audio pronunciations of words and examples. It’s available from the iPhone App Store for $7.99 USD (around 50 RMB) or the equivalent in your local currency.
Short on cash? No problem, we also have a free nciku Online app - it includes all nciku's Chinese-English and English-Chinese dictionary entries and examples, plus Conversations and Theme Words, and won't cost you a penny. Unlike the full version, though, you need to be online to use it, and it doesn't contain our handwriting tool, stroke order animations, or sound for entries and examples.

Features include:

  • Over 163,000 entries, including 76,000 Chinese and 77,000 English words and phrases, all included in the app and available offline. If the word you’re looking for isn’t included in this data, you can connect to’s database of over 3 million entries.
  • Search for an English or Chinese word, its meaning or (for Chinese words) its pinyin, or do an example search to find all examples containing that word
  • Use the nciku Handwriting tool to look up Chinese characters you don’t recognize [needs an internet connection]
  • Over 35,000 of our Chinese definitions for English words also have matching English definitions, to help you see which translation corresponds to which meaning of a word.
  • See stroke order animations for all Chinese characters in a word
  • Native-speaker audio recordings for over 50,000 Chinese and 25,000 English entries, and TTS recordings of all Chinese and English examples and their pronunciations [audio pronunciation requires internet connection]
  • Single-character Chinese entries show a list of longer words containing that character. Multi-character words have a list of all the characters in that word, along with their meanings.
  • Take multiple-choice quizzes on the words you’ve looked up, view them as flashcards or set their memorization level in your vocab list.
  • Offline application: except for the handwriting and audio pronunciation as noted above, the app doesn’t require an internet connection to use
  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices

Looking Up Words

It’s easy to look up Chinese or English words in the nciku iPhone and iPad Dictionary - just enter the word into the search bar at the top of the screen.

There are 4 search modes:

  1. Words: enter the first part of an English or Chinese word to find words starting with your search term
  2. Meanings: enter a word to find entries with that word in their meaning (if there are no meanings containing that exact word, we’ll give you partial matches)
  3. Pinyin: enter pinyin with tone marks (cídiǎn), numeric tones (ci2dian3) or without any tones at all (cidian) to find Chinese entries whose pronunciation starts with your search term
  4. Examples: enter a Chinese or English word to find examples containing that word

After you’ve looked up a word, you can also select a word or character in its definition or an example and tap “lookup” to quickly see the meaning of that word, or see a list of words containing a character or component characters in a Chinese word.

Once you find the word you’re looking for in the results list, tap on it to see more information including all meanings and linked examples, its Traditional Chinese form, and links to other related entries.

You can also tap the speaker icon after the word or an example to listen to audio pronunciation of that word, or click the 字 icon on a Chinese entry’s detail page to see stroke order animations for every character in the word.


This version of the nciku dictionary lets you use the famous nciku Chinese character handwriting tool to enter characters you don't know how to type. It’s designed to cope well with the typical mistakes made by learners, like stroke order and direction.

The handwriting tool needs to connect to nciku’s servers to work, so you will need an active internet connection to use this feature.

Vocab List & Memorization Tests

When you look up a word in the dictionary, it will automatically be added to a list of recently viewed words.

You can tap on the circular icons on the left to change a word’s memorization status, or swipe from right to left to delete a word from your list.

You can take three types of memorization tests on words in your vocabulary list:

  • Learning Meanings: Choose the correct meaning of a word, given 4 options
  • Learning Words: Choose which of 4 words has the given meaning
  • Flashcards: Study words as flashcards, at your own pace

For each test type, you can choose whether to go from Chinese to English or vice versa, and whether to choose words randomly or make words with a lower memorization level appear more often. You can also change whether to change the memorization level of a word based on whether you got the answer right or wrong.

You can buy the nciku Chinese dictionary for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from the iPhone App Store for $7.99 USD (around 50 RMB) or the equivalent in your local currency.
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