Full-text queries

Although you can use HTTP request parameters to perform simple searches, the Elasticsearch query domain-specific language (DSL) lets you specify the full range of search options. The query DSL uses the HTTP request body. Queries specified in this way have the added advantage of being more explicit in their intent and easier to tune over time.

This page lists all full-text query types and common options. Given the sheer number of options and subtle behaviors, the best method of ensuring useful search results is to test different queries against representative indices and verify the output.


Table of contents

  1. Match
  2. Multi match
  3. Match boolean prefix
  4. Match phrase
  5. Match phrase prefix
  6. Common terms
  7. Query string
  8. Simple query string
  9. Match all
  10. Match none
  11. Options

Match

Creates a boolean query that returns results if the search term is present in the field.

The most basic form of the query provides only a field (title) and a term (wind):

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match": {
      "title": "wind"
    }
  }
}

For an example that uses curl, try:

curl --insecure -XGET -u admin:admin https://<host>:<port>/<index>/_search \
  -H "content-type: application/json" \
  -d '{
    "query": {
      "match": {
        "title": "wind"
      }
    }
  }'

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match": {
      "title": {
        "query": "wind",
        "fuzziness": "AUTO",
        "fuzzy_transpositions": true,
        "operator":  "or",
        "minimum_should_match": 1,
        "analyzer": "standard",
        "zero_terms_query": "none",
        "lenient": false,
        "cutoff_frequency": 0.01,
        "prefix_length": 0,
        "max_expansions": 50,
        "boost": 1
      }
    }
  }
}

Multi match

Similar to match, but searches multiple fields.

The ^ lets you “boost” certain fields. Boosts are multipliers that weigh matches in one field more heavily than matches in other fields. In the following example, a match for “wind” in the title field influences _score four times as much as a match in the plot field. The result is that films like The Wind Rises and Gone with the Wind are near the top of the search results, and films like Twister and Sharknado, which presumably have “wind” in their plot summaries, are near the bottom.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "multi_match": {
      "query": "wind",
      "fields": ["title^4", "plot"]
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "multi_match": {
      "query": "wind",
      "fields": ["title^4", "description"],
      "type": "most_fields",
      "operator": "and",
      "minimum_should_match": 3,
      "tie_breaker": 0.0,
      "analyzer": "standard",
      "boost": 1,
      "fuzziness": "AUTO",
      "fuzzy_transpositions": true,
      "lenient": false,
      "prefix_length": 0,
      "max_expansions": 50,
      "auto_generate_synonyms_phrase_query": true,
      "cutoff_frequency": 0.01,
      "zero_terms_query": "none"
    }
  }
}

Match boolean prefix

Similar to match, but creates a prefix query out of the last term in the query string.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_bool_prefix": {
      "title": "rises wi"
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_bool_prefix": {
      "title": {
        "query": "rises wi",
        "fuzziness": "AUTO",
        "fuzzy_transpositions": true,
        "max_expansions": 50,
        "prefix_length": 0,
        "operator":  "or",
        "minimum_should_match": 2,
        "analyzer": "standard"
      }
    }
  }
}

Match phrase

Creates a phrase query that matches a sequence of terms.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_phrase": {
      "title": "the wind rises"
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_phrase": {
      "title": {
        "query": "wind rises the",
        "slop": 3,
        "analyzer": "standard",
        "zero_terms_query": "none"
      }
    }
  }
}

Match phrase prefix

Similar to match phrase, but creates a prefix query out of the last term in the query string.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_phrase_prefix": {
      "title": "the wind ri"
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_phrase_prefix": {
      "title": {
        "query": "the wind ri",
        "analyzer": "standard",
        "max_expansions": 50,
        "slop": 3
      }
    }
  }
}

Common terms

The common terms query separates the query string into high- and low-frequency terms based on number of occurrences on the shard. Low-frequency terms are weighed more heavily in the results, and high-frequency terms are considered only for documents that already matched one or more low-frequency terms. In that sense, you can think of this query as having a built-in, ever-changing list of stop words.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "common": {
      "title": {
        "query": "the wind rises"
      }
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "common": {
      "title": {
        "query": "the wind rises",
        "cutoff_frequency": 0.002,
        "low_freq_operator": "or",
        "boost": 1,
        "analyzer": "standard",
        "minimum_should_match": {
          "low_freq" : 2,
          "high_freq" : 3
        }
      }
    }
  }
}

Query string

The query string query splits text based on operators and analyzes each individually.

If you search using the HTTP request parameters (i.e. _search?q=wind), Elasticsearch creates a query string query.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "query_string": {
      "query": "the wind AND (rises OR rising)"
    }
  }
}

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "query_string": {
      "query": "the wind AND (rises OR rising)",
      "default_field": "title",
      "type": "best_fields",
      "fuzziness": "AUTO",
      "fuzzy_transpositions": true,
      "fuzzy_max_expansions": 50,
      "fuzzy_prefix_length": 0,
      "minimum_should_match": 1,
      "default_operator": "or",
      "analyzer": "standard",
      "lenient": false,
      "boost": 1,
      "allow_leading_wildcard": true,
      "enable_position_increments": true,
      "phrase_slop": 3,
      "max_determinized_states": 10000,
      "time_zone": "-08:00",
      "quote_field_suffix": "",
      "quote_analyzer": "standard",
      "analyze_wildcard": false,
      "auto_generate_synonyms_phrase_query": true
    }
  }
}

Simple query string

The simple query string query is like the query string query, but it lets advanced users specify many arguments directly in the query string. The query discards any invalid portions of the query string.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "simple_query_string": {
      "query": "\"rises wind the\"~4 | *ising~2",
      "fields": ["title"]
    }
  }
}
Special character Behavior
+ Acts as the and operator.
| Acts as the or operator.
* Acts as a wildcard.
"" Wraps several terms into a phrase.
() Wraps a clause for precedence.
~n When used after a term (e.g. wnid~3), sets fuzziness. When used after a phrase, sets slop. See Options.
- Negates the term.

The query accepts the following options. For descriptions of each, see Options.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "simple_query_string": {
      "query": "\"rises wind the\"~4 | *ising~2",
      "fields": ["title"],
      "flags": "ALL",
      "fuzzy_transpositions": true,
      "fuzzy_max_expansions": 50,
      "fuzzy_prefix_length": 0,
      "minimum_should_match": 1,
      "default_operator": "or",
      "analyzer": "standard",
      "lenient": false,
      "quote_field_suffix": "",
      "analyze_wildcard": false,
      "auto_generate_synonyms_phrase_query": true
    }
  }
}

Match all

Matches all documents. Can be useful for testing.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_all": {}
  }
}

Match none

Matches no documents. Rarely useful.

GET _search
{
  "query": {
    "match_none": {}
  }
}

Options

Option Valid values Description
allow_leading_wildcard Boolean Whether * and ? are allowed as the first character of a search term. The default is true.
analyze_wildcard Boolean Whether Elasticsearch should attempt to analyze wildcard terms. Some analyzers do a poor job at this task, so the default is false.
analyzer standard, simple, whitespace, stop, keyword, pattern, <language>, fingerprint The analyzer you want to use for the query. Different analyzers have different character filters, tokenizers, and token filters. The stop analyzer, for example, removes stop words (e.g. “an,” “but,” “this”) from the query string.
auto_generate_synonyms_phrase_query Boolean A value of true (default) automatically generates phrase queries for multi-term synonyms. For example, if you have the synonym "ba, batting average" and search for “ba,” Elasticsearch searches for ba OR "batting average" (if this option is true) or ba OR (batting AND average) (if this option is false).
boost Floating-point Boosts the clause by the given multiplier. Useful for weighing clauses in compound queries. The default is 1.0.
cutoff_frequency Between 0.0 and 1.0 or a positive integer This value lets you define high and low frequency terms based on number of occurrences in the index. Numbers between 0 and 1 are treated as a percentage. For example, 0.10 is 10%. This value means that if a word occurs within the search field in more than 10% of the documents on the shard, Elasticsearch considers the word “high frequency” and deemphasizes it when calculating search score.

Because this setting is per shard, testing its impact on search results can be challenging unless a cluster has many documents.
enable_position_increments Boolean When true, result queries are aware of position increments. This setting is useful when the removal of stop words leaves an unwanted “gap” between terms. The default is true.
fields String array The list of fields to search (e.g. "fields": ["title^4", "description"]). If unspecified, defaults to the index.query.default_field setting, which defaults to ["*"].
flags String A |-delimited string of flags to enable (e.g. AND|OR|NOT). The default is ALL.
fuzziness AUTO, 0, or a positive integer The number of character edits (insert, delete, substitute) that it takes to change one word to another when determining whether a term matched a value. For example, the distance between wined and wind is 1. The default, AUTO, chooses a value based on the length of each term and is a good choice for most use cases.
fuzzy_transpositions Boolean Setting fuzzy_transpositions to true (default) adds swaps of adjacent characters to the insert, delete, and substitute operations of the fuzziness option. For example, the distance between wind and wnid is 1 if fuzzy_transpositions is true (swap “n” and “i”) and 2 if it is false (delete “n”, insert “n”).

If fuzzy_transpositions is false, rewind and wnid have the same distance (2) from wind, despite the more human-centric opinion that wnid is an obvious typo. The default is a good choice for most use cases.
lenient Boolean Setting lenient to true lets you ignore data type mismatches between the query and the document field. For example, a query string of “8.2” could match a field of type float. The default is false.
low_freq_operator and, or The operator for low-frequency terms. The default is or. See Common Terms queries and operator in this table.
max_determinized_states Positive integer The maximum number of “states” (a measure of complexity) that Lucene can create for query strings that contain regular expressions (e.g. "query": "/wind.+?/"). Larger numbers allow for queries that use more memory. The default is 10,000.
max_expansions Positive integer Fuzzy queries “expand to” a number of matching terms that are within the distance specified in fuzziness. Then Elasticsearch tries to match those terms against its indices. max_expansions specifies the maximum number of terms that the fuzzy query expands to. The default is 50.
minimum_should_match Positive or negative integer, positive or negative percentage, combination If the query string contains multiple search terms and you used the or operator, the number of terms that need to match for the document to be considered a match. For example, if minimum_should_match is 2, “wind often rising” does not match “The Wind Rises.” If minimum_should_match is 1, it matches. This option also has low_freq and high_freq properties for Common Terms queries.
operator or, and If the query string contains multiple search terms, whether all terms need to match (and) or only one term needs to match (or) for a document to be considered a match.
phrase_slop 0 (default) or a positive integer See slop.
prefix_length 0 (default) or a positive integer The number of leading characters that are not considered in fuzziness.
quote_field_suffix String This option lets you search different fields depending on whether terms are wrapped in quotes. For example, if quote_field_suffix is ".exact" and you search for "lightly" (in quotes) in the title field, Elasticsearch searches the title.exact field. This second field might use a different type (e.g. keyword rather than text) or a different analyzer. The default is null.
rewrite constant_score, scoring_boolean, constant_score_boolean, top_terms_N, top_terms_boost_N, top_terms_blended_freqs_N Determines how Elasticsearch rewrites and scores multi-term queries. The default is constant_score.
slop 0 (default) or a positive integer Controls the degree to which words in a query can be misordered and still be considered a match. From the Lucene documentation: “The number of other words permitted between words in query phrase. For example, to switch the order of two words requires two moves (the first move places the words atop one another), so to permit re-orderings of phrases, the slop must be at least two. A value of zero requires an exact match.”
tie_breaker 0.0 (default) to 1.0 Changes the way Elasticsearch scores searches. For example, a type of best_fields typically uses the highest score from any one field. If you specify a tie_breaker value between 0.0 and 1.0, the score changes to highest score + tie_breaker * score for all other matching fields. If you specify a value of 1.0, Elasticsearch adds together the scores for all matching fields (effectively defeating the purpose of best_fields).
time_zone UTC offset The time zone to use (e.g. -08:00) if the query string contains a date range (e.g. "query": "wind rises release_date[2012-01-01 TO 2014-01-01]"). The default is UTC.
type best_fields, most_fields, cross-fields, phrase, phrase_prefix Determines how Elasticsearch executes the query and scores the results. The default is best_fields.
zero_terms_query none, all If the analyzer removes all terms from a query string, whether to match no documents (default) or all documents. For example, the stop analyzer removes all terms from the string “an but this.”