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How come that searching for "-1" on Google Search Engine returns:

Your search - -1 - did not match any documents. Suggestions: Make sure that all words are spelled correctly. Try different keywords. Try more general keywords.

Aren't there really results for -1?

25

The - is used to exclude something from a search. This is usually negated if you quote everything, so technically "-1" should work.

That said, Google tends to ignore negative numbers, so the best alternative is to write out the minus.

If you search for minus 1 or negative 1 Google will actually give results that include -1.

14

For such things I usually go to Symbol Hound, where you can search for things including, well, symbols, such as & @var x++ etc.

  • As a demo I tried searching for -1 on en.wikipedia.org, but it didn't really work. After some digging, it turns out Wikpedia uses the proper minus sign, Unicode U+2212, instead of the hyphen-minus U+2d. So I tried −1, but it didn't find the page −1, which is strange. Meanwhile, doing the equivalent search on Google works. – wjandrea Oct 31 '20 at 23:19
5

Google search uses the - symbol to exclude results.

You can fix this by escaping the -, e.g. \-. This makes Google process the raw symbol. However, Google often ignores the negative sign even if you do this.

To get the desired results, write out the sign, i.e. negative 1.

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