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The ~ Operator

Find synonyms by preceding the term with a ~, which is known as the tilde or synonym operator.

The tilde (~) operator takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word and for the word’s synonyms. It also searches for the term with alternative endings. The tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms. As with the – operator, put the ~ (tilde) next to the word, with no spaces between the ~ and its associated word, i.e., [ ~lightweight laptop ] NOT [ ~ lightweight laptop ].

Why did Google use tilde? In math, the “~” symbol means “is similar to.” The tilde tells Google to search for pages that are synonyms or similar to the term that follows.

  • ~inexpensive ] matches “inexpensive,” “cheap,” “affordable,” and “low cost
  • ~run ] matches “run,” “runner’s,” “running,” as well as “marathon

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The tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms.

If you don’t like the synonyms that Google suggests when you use the ~ operator, specify your own synonyms with the OR operator, which I describe next.

tags (keywords): , , , , ,

This page was last modified on: Sunday December 16, 2012

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By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.

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