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1.4 Using wildcards

If you are not sure of the length of word you are looking for, but know some of the letters, you can represent this with a "wildcard" in TEA. Wildcards can be used in either a template or an anagram pattern; they are indicated by an asterisk (*), which shows where extra letters can be inserted.

The popular conundrum "what words end in GRY?" illustrates the use of wildcards in templates, as shown below:

Step 4 initial image

Type *gry into the box below the Pattern label and click on the Word Search button. You should see a lot of words of different lengths ending GRY, the only well-known ones being angry and hungry.

You can also use wildcards in an anagram pattern. Suppose you wanted to find words of up to eight letters that contained all the vowels. You could represent this by adding a wildcard to an anagram of the letters A, E, I, O and U, as shown below:

Step 4 intermediate image

Type ;aeiou* into the box below the Pattern label. Before clicking on Word Search, note that the range of answer lengths matched shown by the progress bar goes from 5 to 23 and above. We are only interested in words of up to eight letters and this illustrates one use for the Shortest and Longest controls between the Pattern box and the progress bar: when you have a pattern involving wildcards, it is often useful to lower the Longest setting to avoid seeing a lot of long answers that are not of interest.

To reduce the Longest setting, either click into the box to the right of the label and change the number using the keyboard; or click on the down arrow to the right of the box using the mouse. Do this now, changing the Longest setting to 8 as shown below:

Step 4 final image

Click on Word Search and you will see words up to eight letters long containing at least one of each vowel.

Note that "Anagram Balances" are again shown after entries to indicate the letters that were required but not specified in the pattern. For example, * is replaced by a Q and an S for sequoia, so the Anagram Balance is +QS.

Before going on to the next step, change the Longest setting back to the maximum value 31, either by clicking on the up arrow with the mouse, or using the keyboard as described above. In the next step, we'll see another use for wildcards in patterns that include both a template and an anagram part.


Relevant Help Sections

Wildcards
Anagram Balances

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Last updated: $Date: 2010/06/06 20:40:38 $
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