Sometimes you don't know what word you're looking for or how to spell it. Other times you only know a few letters. For these situations there are "wildcard" symbols available for finding words on OneLook.com.
The question mark (?) matches exactly one letter. That means that you can use it as a placeholder for a single letter or symbol. The query l?b?n?n, for example, will find the word "Lebanon".
The number-sign (#) matches any English consonant. For example, the query tra#t finds the word "tract" but not "trait".
The at-sign (@) matches any English vowel. For example, the query abo@t finds the word "about" but not "abort".
Double asterisks around a word (as in **bird**) finds phrases (multiple-word terms) that contain the word as a whole entity.
NEW! The comma (,) lets you combine multiple patterns into one. For example, the query ?????,*y* finds 5-letter words that contain a "y" somewhere, such as "happy" and "rhyme".
NEW! Use double-slashes (//) before a group of letters to unscramble them (that is, find anagrams.) For example, the query //soulbeat will find "absolute" and "bales out". You can use another double-slash to end the group and put letters you're sure of to the left and to the right of it. For example, the query //blabrcs//e will find "scrabble". You can include question marks to represent unknown letters; for example, //we??? returns 5-letter words that contain a W and an E, such as "water" and "awake".
NEW! A minus sign (-) followed by some letters at the end of a pattern means "exclude these letters". For example, the query sp???-ei finds 5-letter words that start with "sp" but do not contain an "e"or an "i", such as "spoon" and "spray".
See common words only: If you enter a short pattern, you may get too many results to sift through. In this event, take note of the link that says "Common words only" near the top of the results page. This link lets you filter out terms that are very uncommon (meaning that they appear in fewer than six dictionaries.) You can make this behavior the default on the Customize page.
Filter by meaning: If you're looking for a certain topic, put a colon (:) after your pattern and then type a word or two describing what you're looking for. For example, the query p*:ireland finds terms beginning with "p" that have something to do with Ireland, and the query *:widespread epidemic searches for terms having something to do with "widespread epidemic". The latter case demonstrates how OneLook.com can be used as a means of finding a word (in this case, pandemic) if you only know its definition. See the reverse dictionary page for more details on this feature.
Solve crossword puzzle clues: For crossword puzzle fans, the "Filter by meaning" feature above can be used to help you find answers to crossword puzzle clues, or generate your own crosswords. You may also want to know about the special "crossword puzzle mode", described below.
Search only one dictionary: Did you know that you can restrict your wildcard searches to almost any individual dictionary indexed by OneLook.com? Just find the dictionary on the browse page (or on any search results page that brings up the dictionary) and click on "More info". The page that comes up will have a search box specific to that dictionary.
Expand acronyms: Want to find phrases that match a certain acronym, like NASA? Try the special "expand:" shorthand. For example, try expand:nasa.