Delete APIedit

The delete API allows to delete a typed JSON document from a specific index based on its id. The following example deletes the JSON document from an index called twitter, under a type called tweet, with id valued 1:

$ curl -XDELETE 'http://localhost:9200/twitter/tweet/1'

The result of the above delete operation is:

    "found" : true,
    "_index" : "twitter",
    "_type" : "tweet",
    "_id" : "1",
    "_version" : 2


Each document indexed is versioned. When deleting a document, the version can be specified to make sure the relevant document we are trying to delete is actually being deleted and it has not changed in the meantime. Every write operation executed on a document, deletes included, causes its version to be incremented.


When indexing using the ability to control the routing, in order to delete a document, the routing value should also be provided. For example:

$ curl -XDELETE 'http://localhost:9200/twitter/tweet/1?routing=kimchy'

The above will delete a tweet with id 1, but will be routed based on the user. Note, issuing a delete without the correct routing, will cause the document to not be deleted.

Many times, the routing value is not known when deleting a document. For those cases, when specifying the _routing mapping as required, and no routing value is specified, the delete will be broadcast automatically to all shards.


The parent parameter can be set, which will basically be the same as setting the routing parameter.

Note that deleting a parent document does not automatically delete its children. One way of deleting all child documents given a parent’s id is to perform a delete by query on the child index with the automatically generated (and indexed) field _parent, which is in the format parent_type#parent_id.

Automatic index creationedit

The delete operation automatically creates an index if it has not been created before (check out the create index API for manually creating an index), and also automatically creates a dynamic type mapping for the specific type if it has not been created before (check out the put mapping API for manually creating type mapping).


The delete operation gets hashed into a specific shard id. It then gets redirected into the primary shard within that id group, and replicated (if needed) to shard replicas within that id group.

Write Consistencyedit

Control if the operation will be allowed to execute based on the number of active shards within that partition (replication group). The values allowed are one, quorum, and all. The parameter to set it is consistency, and it defaults to the node level setting of action.write_consistency which in turn defaults to quorum.

For example, in a N shards with 2 replicas index, there will have to be at least 2 active shards within the relevant partition (quorum) for the operation to succeed. In a N shards with 1 replica scenario, there will need to be a single shard active (in this case, one and quorum is the same).


The refresh parameter can be set to true in order to refresh the relevant primary and replica shards after the delete operation has occurred and make it searchable. Setting it to true should be done after careful thought and verification that this does not cause a heavy load on the system (and slows down indexing).


The primary shard assigned to perform the delete operation might not be available when the delete operation is executed. Some reasons for this might be that the primary shard is currently recovering from a gateway or undergoing relocation. By default, the delete operation will wait on the primary shard to become available for up to 1 minute before failing and responding with an error. The timeout parameter can be used to explicitly specify how long it waits. Here is an example of setting it to 5 minutes:

$ curl -XDELETE 'http://localhost:9200/twitter/tweet/1?timeout=5m'