Antidote 10 User Guide

User Guide / The Dictionaries / Searching With Variables

Searching With Variables

In some situations, you may wish to search for a word even if you don’t know all the letters. Maybe you’re missing a five-letter word starting with py to finish your crossword, or you’re writing an assignment on heat sources and are looking for words containing the string thermo. Searching with variables is an excellent way to find the word or words you’re seeking.

The search results are displayed in a panel in the form of a list of words accompanied by their syntactic categories and a preview of their definitions. The options in the left-hand column let you sort and filter the results.

N.B.: The results sometimes combine different forms of the same word (e.g. several conjugations of the same verb) on one line, for easier reading.

*: unknown character or characters

Use the asterisk (*) to replace any letter or group of letters. For example, to see which words contain thermo, enter *thermo*.

  • The asterisk replaces a string of arbitrary length, including the empty string.

\?: an unknown character

Use the question mark (?) to replace any letter. Enter py??? to find the word missing from your crossword.

  • The string py??? searches for words of exactly five letters starting with py.

&: an unknown vowel

The ampersand (&) replaces a single letter, but it must be a vowel (a, e, i, o, u, y). So searching for poli& will give you polio.

#: an unknown consonant

The hash (number sign) replaces a single letter, but it must be a consonant (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, z). So searching for poli# will give you polis.


You can sort the list of results by clicking on the options in the SORT block of the results window. For instance, if you click on by category, the results will be shown in ascending alphabetical order, by category.

Category filters

You can limit the displayed results to a particular syntactic category (noun, adjective, etc.) using the options in the CATEGORIES block.


  • inflections: use this option to restrict the results to simple forms (infinitive, for verbs, singular for nouns). If you uncheck this box and search for polic?, the form policies won’t be displayed because it is the plural form of policy.
  • with spaces: uncheck this box to exclude words containing spaces and special characters like hyphens and apostrophes. For instance, if you search for *operate, the word co-operate will not appear, since it contains a hyphen.

Limiting searches with variables

In some cases, searching with variables can produce such a large number of results that it will slow Antidote down. For that reason, the number of results that can be displayed is limited to 1,000. Antidote may also consider the search request too vague, given the number of variables. In that case, the number of results will be limited to 500.