I'm thinking of words that appear in sentences which exist primarily to give structure. So examples might be:

"a" "of" "and" "are"

For example, when searching on Google for a phrase like "catch a butterfly", the results list will show bold highlights of the exact phrase, or isolated occurrences of "Catch" or "Butterfly" but it will not bold isolated occurrences of those structural words listed above.

Is there a name for this type of word? Also, is there a list of these words somewhere? I ask because I'm implementing a similar highlighting feature and want to exclude all the single occurrences of words which aren't germane to the searched term.


1 Answer 1


In Web Search (or general text Search) , these words have a technical name "STOP WORDS", and a list of such words has a technical name "STOP LIST", which consists of your examples and many many more words.

Basically, STOP WORDS are those which are very common, do not add meaning to the query and not really good enough to filter the DataBase or Corpus.

Explore more here:




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    Stop words are any words in a 'stop list' and may include very common lexical items as well as function words. From Wikipedia: There is no single universal list of stop words used by all natural language processing tools, nor any agreed-upon rules for identifying stop words, and indeed not all tools even use such a list. Therefore, any group of words can be chosen as the stop words for a given purpose. Oct 5, 2021 at 18:11
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    @EdwinAshworth , but that does not change the fact that OP is actually asking for STOP WORDS & a STOP LIST .... : See his last Para, especially the last sentence .... ; Just that he does not know the terminology .... : Even Google uses this terminology !!
    – Prem
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:21
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    'I'm thinking of words that appear in sentences which exist primarily to give structure. So examples might be: "a" "of" "and" "are".' // But xpo6.com has: 'Here is a list of [E]nglish stop words: a about above across after afterwards ... hundred ... interest ... me ...'. This is not what OP's actual question is asking about. Certain stop lists, or reduced stop lists, may well be of help to them, but ELU addresses precise queries and seeks to give precise answers. And requests for lists have been off-topic for many years. Oct 5, 2021 at 18:38
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    @EdwinAshworth , this is exactly what he is asking for ; See his last Para. Even his middle Para talks about this Google Web Search ; But, he is evidently not sure about the terminology and thus he is assuming that these are some sort of structural words.
    – Prem
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:48
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    @EdwinAshworth , also regarding your comment about lists, I have helped him with the correct terminology and given him Pointers where he can get standard lists to modify according to his wishes. Precise Query : "What are these words ignored in Web Search (which have been unknowingly called structural words, for lack of a better word) called ?" & Precise Answer : "These are STOP WORDS in STOP LISTS"
    – Prem
    Oct 5, 2021 at 18:59

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