Google search tip: wildcard word (*)

Google treats "*" as a wildcard meaning "any word". You can use it in phrases to:

Ignore unimportant words

Fill in phrases where you don't know a word

See how people have filled in expressions and jokes

Crudely "search by proximity"

(I looked through my old searches by pressing Down in a Google search form in Firebird. The resulting autocomplete dropdown contains ~7000 Google searches I have done.)

6 Responses to “Google search tip: wildcard word (*)”

  1. Matt Brubeck Says:

    “* eye for the * guy” turns up great hits like “Black eye for the white guy”:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%22*%20eye%20for%20the%20*%20guy%22

  2. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    I just searched for “* is like * on crack”, and the first hit was a blog entry by my friend Erika Rice!

  3. Elandrael Says:

    I went to calculator mode and found this:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=18*10&btnG=Google+Search

    All seem normal but when you use

    ďSearch for documents containing the terms 18*10.Ē

    You can see a “+” before the query. Going deeper, I assumed that I could do some mathematical calculi with “-” and “+”. In fact itís bugged.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=-18*10&btnG=Google+Search

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=%2B18*10

    If you change directly the “-” by the “+” on the url it work making “+” a space.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=+18*10&btnG=Google+Search

    Even with parenthesis itís bugged.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=%28%2B18%29+*+%28-10%29&btnG=Google+Search

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=%28-18%29+*+%28%2B10%29&btnG=Google+Search

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=%2818%29+*+%2810%29&btnG=Google+Search

    Same result if you change the url directly.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&newwindow=1&q=%28-18%29+*+%28-10%29&btnG=Google+Search

    P.S: Sorry about my English, in fact I m French, so this post might contain mistakes.

  4. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    Elandrael, I’m not sure what you think is a bug. Is it that “+5” makes you leave calculator mode, but you expect it to be the same as “5”?

  5. Tech-Weblog by Christoph C. Cemper Says:

    Google Wildcard Word

    Jesse Ruderman just taught me something new: Google uses "*" as a wildcard meaning "any word", so searching for christoph * house could result in Christoph IN THE house Christoph OWNS A house Christoph Cemper’s house I have to exper…

  6. technofodder for the masses Says:

    assorted sweets #21

    Fun royalty-free stock illustrations More fun royalty-free stock illustrations Google search takes wildcards… cool The Shrine of Villainy Return to your geeky science class roots Talk about travelling on a dime Attention all office slackers… er, w…