full-text search

n. ComputingA technique to provide access to electronic materials by indexing every word in every item.


Full-text searching is distinguished from manual indexing, which searches headings assigned to each document. Early full-text searching was limited, especially in its ability to distinguish different senses of a word; a search for glass might find documents relating to Philip Glass, window glass, and glass ice. More sophisticated search engines could use several terms, with Boolean logic and adjacency rules, to help narrow false hits. Modern search engines seen on the web use a variety of similar techniques to rank documents in terms of likely relevancy.