Boolean Search

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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.

Techopedia Explains Boolean Search

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.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.