Wildcard

Example: "Common wildcard characters include *, ?, and %."

If you've played card games, you may be familiar with the term "wild card." It refers to a card that can take the place of other cards. For example, a player who receives a Joker may decide to play the card as an Ace of Spades. In Uno, a wild card can be any color, which means it can be played at any time.

In computing, wildcards serve a similar purpose. A wildcard is a character that may be substituted for zero or more characters in a string. Wildcards are commonly used for matching patters in computer programs and database queries. By using a wildcards, a query may return results that are close, but not exact matches to a given string. Without wildcards, only exact strings can be matched.

Updated: May 5, 2010

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