The match Queryedit

The match query is the go-to query—the first query that you should reach for whenever you need to query any field. It is a high-level full-text query, meaning that it knows how to deal with both full-text fields and exact-value fields.

That said, the main use case for the match query is for full-text search. So let’s take a look at how full-text search works with a simple example.

Index Some Dataedit

First, we’ll create a new index and index some documents using the bulk API:

DELETE /my_index 

PUT /my_index
{ "settings": { "number_of_shards": 1 }} 

POST /my_index/my_type/_bulk
{ "index": { "_id": 1 }}
{ "title": "The quick brown fox" }
{ "index": { "_id": 2 }}
{ "title": "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" }
{ "index": { "_id": 3 }}
{ "title": "The quick brown fox jumps over the quick dog" }
{ "index": { "_id": 4 }}
{ "title": "Brown fox brown dog" }

Delete the index in case it already exists.

Later, in Relevance Is Broken!, we explain why we created this index with only one primary shard.

A Single-Word Queryedit

Our first example explains what happens when we use the match query to search within a full-text field for a single word:

GET /my_index/my_type/_search
    "query": {
        "match": {
            "title": "QUICK!"

Elasticsearch executes the preceding match query as follows:

  1. Check the field type.

    The title field is a full-text (analyzed) string field, which means that the query string should be analyzed too.

  2. Analyze the query string.

    The query string QUICK! is passed through the standard analyzer, which results in the single term quick. Because we have just a single term, the match query can be executed as a single low-level term query.

  3. Find matching docs.

    The term query looks up quick in the inverted index and retrieves the list of documents that contain that term—in this case, documents 1, 2, and 3.

  4. Score each doc.

    The term query calculates the relevance _score for each matching document, by combining the term frequency (how often quick appears in the title field of each document), with the inverse document frequency (how often quick appears in the title field in all documents in the index), and the length of each field (shorter fields are considered more relevant). See What Is Relevance?.

This process gives us the following (abbreviated) results:

"hits": [
    "_id":      "1",
    "_score":   0.5, 
    "_source": {
       "title": "The quick brown fox"
    "_id":      "3",
    "_score":   0.44194174, 
    "_source": {
       "title": "The quick brown fox jumps over the quick dog"
    "_id":      "2",
    "_score":   0.3125, 
    "_source": {
       "title": "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"

Document 1 is most relevant because its title field is short, which means that quick represents a large portion of its content.

Document 3 is more relevant than document 2 because quick appears twice.