I am looking to identify list of words that I can add to my search algorithm for a database.

I would like to know if there is a list of words that I can identify that serve little purpose. I would like to search a database for exact matches without the use of certain words. For example, the, an, a, to, and. I am not sure what you call these type of words.

  • 2
    Welcome to EL&U. I think most of the contributors here would take issue with the notion that words like the or and "serve little purpose"; an evening with the Queen would probably be rather different from one with Queen — or with a queen for that matter. Are you simply referring to very common words, for example, to ignore when indexing text?
    – choster
    Dec 2, 2014 at 17:24
  • 3
    The list of words to be excluded from a text search is typically called a "stopword list". As an example, see the MySQL Full Text Search Stopword List http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/fulltext-stopwords.html. (it's not that these words "serve little purpose", they do serve an important purpose. The problem with these words is that matches based on these words often yield results which tend not to be relevant the actual topic being searched.) Dec 2, 2014 at 17:36
  • 1
    See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_words Dec 2, 2014 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


According to the ones you shared in your example:

  • the, an,a = articles.
  • and = additive coordinating conjunction.
  • to = preposition.

I guess you could use just "Common Words" or "Stop Words", that's usually among the technical jargons that are stated while reading about indexing operations in Search Engines.

e.g., http://lucene.apache.org/core/3_0_3/api/core/org/apache/lucene/analysis/package-summary.html#Tokenization


  • (1) ELU being aimed at proficient linguists, giving the POS's of 'and' etc is over-simplistic. (2) There doesn't seem to be any user-friendly supporting evidence. Aug 19, 2019 at 18:31

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