You can search for anything on Google, right? At least, so I thought. I was trying to see how the special characters get encoded in the url, like how & gets converted to %26. I started searching for *. It did not get encoded, but weirdly google didn't tell me that it was an asterisk symbol. All other search engines (yahoo, bing, duckduckgo) did.

See for yourself : In Google. Basically it treats it as a regular expression. So *+* will also not give any results. Still, shouldn't Google at least say that * is the asterisk symbol.

I don't know where else to ask this question, so I came to SO.


Google Search doesn't allow searching for punctuation characters.

Further, the asterisk (*) acts as a wildcard character in searches. For instance

* tart recipe

Should return recipes for apple tarts, pear tarts, cherry tarts, etc.

Google's own example from the search operators support page is

a * saved is a * earned

(That page also lists other special characters that can be used in search which, obviously, are then impossible to search for.)

Here's some other information you might find useful:

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  • Yes I understand that Google search with regex is what we are discussing and so * is simply a wildcard. Still I repeat my question: when you search for * in Google, why isn't Google saying that it is an asterisk symbol? Shouldn't that be the default behaviour of any search engine? – 0aslam0 Aug 3 '16 at 18:43
  • 2
    Generally speaking, the only people who can answer why Google do anything is Google, and they're not active here. – ale Aug 3 '16 at 19:01

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