Master the
Chinese Language

Groundbreaking new Chinese character dictionary for Pleco


Learning by understanding.

We created our dictionary to focus on understanding — by seeing how Chinese characters work as a system, rather than as a bunch of disconnected single characters to be individually mastered.



Our users



Achieve your target test scores in AP Tests and SAT 2


Improve your Communication with your Chinese business associates


Access the most exhaustive and authoritative resource on character etymology available in English!


Activate your version today

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3 editions of Outlier

The Mini Edition is great for beginners; it’s an introduction to the Outlier approach. The Essentials Edition is for students of all levels and backgrounds. The Expert Edition is for students who enjoy being able to dive deep into the history and etymology of the Chinese language. If you pre-order the Essentials or Expert Edition, you’ll get the current version immediately, as well as regular updates until your chosen version is finished!


How to get started?

Choose Version

Step 1.

Choose which version is right for you: The Mini Edition is perfect for beginners and those who just want an introduction to the Outlier approach, The Essentials Edition contains all the essential info about each character and is appropriate for most students, and The Expert Edition is for those who want to dive deep into the history and etymology of Chinese characters!

Download Pleco

Step 2.

If you don’t already have Pleco installed on your mobile device, do so now—it’s free! It’s available in the App Store (for iOS users) and the Google Play store (for Android users).

Add Outlier Dictionary Code

Step 3.

You’ll receive an activation code and instructions via email. Go to the link provided and follow the instructions, and you’ll be all set!

Start Learning Chinese!

Step 4.

Pleco will automatically install the Outlier Dictionary once you’ve finished step 3, and you’ll be all set!


Activate your version


New Chinese Learners


Component breakdowns for 2000 characters

In-depth explanations for semantic components

Latest research from Scholars in China & Taiwan

Limited Support


AP Tests, SAT II, and HSK students


Everything in The Mini Edition

Another 2000 characters (4000 total!)

More information + stroke order for all 4000 characters

*pre-order; you’ll get the current version + updates until finished


For curious minds


Everything in The Essentials Edition

Detailed information on each character's history

Evolution from ancient to modern form

*pre-order; you’ll get the current version + updates until finished


Semantic Components Posters

Our PDF Semantic Components posters are a great addition to the Outlier Dictionary. Keep these posters on your wall as a reference to jog your memory, or as a way to work on your handwriting!


  • They have put a lot of thought into the difference between how native speakers learn Chinese and how foreigners learn Chinese, they’ve deconstructed the process, and they’ve come up with a better way for foreigners to learn characters. We learners need this!
    — John Pasden, AllSet Learning
  • Outlier Dictionary is a savior for overwhelmed Chinese language students.
    — Catherine Shu, TechCrunch
  • Outlier Linguistics is teaching what most Chinese courses don’t – how characters work.
    — Josh Horwitz, Tech in Asia
  • They are building a dictionary that enables a strong understanding of the system of functional components behind characters, while also enabling curious learners to go as deep as they want in their character studies. This is exactly how it should be done.
    — John Pasden, AllSet Learning


Outlier Blog