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Boolean Search

Last updated: December 21, 2016

What Does Boolean Search Mean?

A Boolean search is the most elementary form of search technique employed to search for information on internet search engines or databases. A Boolean search provides the basic and the most effective principles of searching on the web. Boolean searches include the operators: AND, OR, NOT and NEAR, which are used in sentences with keywords when searching for information.

A Boolean search is also known as a Boolean query.


A Boolean search, which is derived from the famous Boolean logic developed by George Boole, an English mathematician in the 19th century, is useful in internet and database searches.

When using the Boolean search method, one can either use the words or their equivalent mathematical symbol, as given below:

  • AND is equal to + in mathematics. Example: If the user specifies "cats AND kittens," then it returns only results containing both terms.
  • NOT is equal to - in mathematics. Example: "cats NOT kittens" means that it returns only results with the term "cats" that do not contain the term "kittens" as well.
  • OR means that the search engine will search for information related to all keywords the user has typed. Example: "cats OR kittens" broadens the search operation by combining all the terms, and returning results that contain either term.
  • NEAR means that the search engine searches for information related to all keywords found within a certain number of words (which can vary depending on search algorithms) from each other. Example: "cats NEAR kittens" would return only results that contain both terms in close proximity to each other.


Boolean Query

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