Outlier Dictionary
of Chinese Characters

Coming soon exclusively to Pleco

Try Demo Pre-order Now starting from US$29.99, Coming Soon

" I think it’ll be a really great addition to Pleco. It’s going to help people get into where characters come from, what they mean, how they work — really at a much more linguistically rigorous level than it’s ever been done before. "

Michael Love, founder of Pleco

MICHAEL LOVE, founder of Pleco

A new dictionary of Chinese characters based upon cutting-edge research on the Chinese writing system. Learn more efficiently - discover how Chinese characters actually work.

How It Works

The first principle of effective memorization is understanding. You must understand what you’re trying to learn. So one of the best ways to increase the efficiency of your character learning is to increase your understanding of how Chinese characters work as a system, rather than as a bunch of disconnected single characters to be individually mastered.

To do that, you need to know what functional components are and how they work.

There are four types of functional components: form components, meaning components, sound components, and empty components.

About Functional Components (.jpeg)

Check out the different levels of understanding (.jpeg)
The authors behind this site know what they’re doing, which is surprisingly rare!

OLLE LINGE, author of Hacking Chinese

See the benefits of learning with the Outlier Dictionary

A very useful digital dictionary and digital tool which I think represents the next stage in the study of Chinese characters, and maybe even the next stage in the digitizing of Sinology itself.
David Moser

DAVID MOSER, Academic Director at the CET Chinese Studies Program in Beijing, author of "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard"

Pre-order Now starting from US$29.99, Coming Soon
Not convinced yet? Try the demo

Two editions.
Better ways to learn.

The Essentials Edition go to the Essentials Edition

  • you are only interested in the basics
  • you want to learn how to use the meaning and sound of the word you want to write to trigger your memory of the character forms
  • you don’t want to be bothered with anything other than that which you have to know
  • your personal reason for learning Chinese has nothing to do with history or Classical Chinese
  • you already know a lot of Chinese characters, but have trouble remembering how to write them
  • you are not interested in origins and evolution of Chinese characters
  • you’re not sure if you want to spend the money on the Expert Edition
  • you have been learning Chinese characters and want to increase the effectiveness of your learning

The Expert Edition go to the Expert Edition

  • you are an expert
  • you are curious about Chinese character origins and development
  • you study Sinology, Chinese History, Classical Chinese or Paleography
  • you are interested in knowing all the details
  • you want to understand character corruption
  • you want to understand more about the phonological development of Chinese
  • you want to better understand the sound variation in Chinese character sound series
  • you think Chinese characters are aesthetically pleasing
  • you are interested in Chinese culture you want to take it to the next level

The Essentials Edition

Enough to fuel up your learning.

The Essentials Edition presents the information you need to know to master a character:
 an explanation of the structure of the character (i.e., what its functional components are and how they function), the pronunciation, the original meaning and basic modern meaning as well as a chart explaining the relationship between the two.

Need more expert information? Jump to
The Expert Edition


  • Shows you how Chinese characters ​actually work
  • Clears up confusion caused by similar-looking components
  • Helps you make intelligent guesses about characters you haven’t even learned yet
  • Helps you remember how to write characters
  • Opens a whole new world of sound connections between characters

What’s included

The 3500 most common characters (simplified and traditional)

  • All the information required to master a character
  • Pronunciation is given according to both the PRC and ROC standards
  • Character form explanation:
    • - what are the functional components in the character, and
    • - how do they function?
  • Meaning chart with logical relationships between the character’s different meanings
  • Stroke order diagram (both PRC and ROC standards)
  • No extraneous information - just the essentials

The Expert Edition PRO

Meet your new superpowers.

The Expert Edition contains a lot more information about the character’s origin and evolution over time, as well as interesting linguistic tidbits and historical facts. If you’re a language nerd, a scholar of Chinese literature, or someone who finds ancient writing systems fascinating, this is what you’re looking for. Even trained paleographers will find it to be a useful reference, because we cite all of our research within the dictionary itself.


You will get all benefits of the Essentials Edition. On top of that, the Expert Edition:

  • Gives more detailed historical information about the Chinese language and culture
  • Can be used as a reference for paleographers—we cite all our sources

What’s included

The 3500 most common characters (simplified and traditional)


Everything in the Essentials Edition

  • Character form evolution
  • Historical tidbits
  • Phonological information
  • Other interesting things about the character

This project is no joke. They’re out to build something I’ve wished has existed for quite a while, and they’ve got the skills and dedication to make it happen.
John Pasden

JOHN PASDEN of Sinosplice & AllSet Learning

Pre-order Now starting from US$29.99, Coming Soon
Not convinced yet? Try the demo
main logo
Outlier Linguistics Solutions © 2017. All content on this site are Copyright or their respective copyright holders. Do not use without permission.
No, I don't care about good opportunities