Sep
28
2009

How can I search the web phonetically?

Ear (graphic by davi sommerfeld - CC-BY)

Ear (graphic by davi sommerfeld - CC-BY)

Sometimes you need to search the internet, but you don’t know how to spell the word you’re looking for. You only know how to say it.

Most modern search engines are pretty good at spelling correction. For example, if you search for elvis preslie, you will be offered the search results for elvis presley.

But sometimes that’s not quite enough. The spelling checkers will pick up words that are commonly mis-spelled, but you want to search using a “sounds-alike” spelling which may not be frequently-enough misspelt to be picked up by the search engines, or which may already be a correct spelling.

I’m only aware of one comprehensive search engine with phonetic matching, and that’s Exalead.

To specify a phonetic search, just precede your search term by “soundslike:”. For example, you can search for soundslike:london to see pages about London, Lundeen, Lunden and Landon.

A search for soundslike:quezi returns pages about Quezi, Kwasi, Queasy, Quesi and Quasi, and a search for soundslike:uclue returns pages about ACLU, ECLO, Uclue, EEKLO, Uccello and so on.

As a bonus, each search result is displayed together with a thumnail screenshot of the destination website.

Related questions:

  Need research? Quezi's researchers can answer your questions at uclue.com

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