I was reading a sort of grammatical treatise on prepositions when I encountered a remark about someone not knowing the difference between the words “errant” and “arrant,” the latter of which I had never, to my knowledge, heard.
(I almost never use Google. Bing, to me, in spite of being from Micro$oft, does not embed advertisements posing as “hits,” but places them to the side, out of my way. Bing accepts Boolean searches, which is what this note is ultimately about.)
Back to the subject: I typed ARRENT ERRANT into the search box and pressed Enter. All of my results had something to do with arrest warrants because the string “arrant” is part of the word “warrant.” In order to rid my results of returns based upon that subject, a Boolean search was needed. A Boolean search is a little like an algebraic equation. It allows one to include or exclude specific strings of letters (or words) by specifying how the search engine is to handle your input. Some search engines will respond just as well to your use of operators such as NOT, while others will only return correct “hits” if you use mathematical operators, such as the minus sign.
Lost yet? Here’s the simple way I narrowed the search results to a more manageable herd: I added the terms –ARREST –WARRANT (the capital letters are immaterial except for clarity in this note) and pressed Enter. Bing eliminated all search returns with those words, but did still show ads at the side based on them. Go figure.