Google’s synonym operator

Sometimes you know that the page you seek is out there, but you can’t find it. You’ve tried searching for all the relevant keywords you can think of, but the page must be using different words.

That’s when Google’s synonym operator comes into its own. Just prefix a word with a tilde (~) and Google will search for the synonyms that it knows about.


So, for example, a search for ~earth will find pages about world in addition to those about earth.

Suppose you want to lookup acronyms: most people wouldn’t think to include finder amongst their search terms, but a Google search for acronym ~search will return Acronym Finder amongst its results.

You can put the synonym operator in front of more than one search term if you like, but it doesn’t work in front of quoted phrases.

Google sometimes searches for very close synonyms without asking, but the synonym operator makes it use a fairly broad range. For example, Google’s synonyms for garden include plant and landscaping, synonyms for car include BMW, automobile, motor etc.

(photo by Bjarne Kvaale)

2 Responses to “Google’s synonym operator”

  1. pafalafaga says:

    Thanks for the good reminder there, Mr. Eiffel, sir. If I can add one thing…

    For the longest time, whenever I wanted to use the synonym function, I’d type [ tilde ] into Google, to get to a site that included a tilde character, and then cut and paste it into my search.

    Years went by, and one day I noticed that there actually IS a tilde on my keyboard…way over there on the upper left.

    I post this on the off chance that there someone reading this blog who is as equally unobservant as I am (quick…no peeking now….what color shirt are you wearing?).


  2. eiffel says:

    On my keyboard, the tilde is three positions to the right of the “L”, immediately to the left of ENTER.