The term wildcard character has several meanings.
- In high-frequency (HF) radio automatic link establishment, the wildcard character
may be substituted for any one of the 36 upper-case alphanumeric characters.
- Whether the wildcard character represents a single character or a string of characters must be specified.
File and directory patterns
In Unix-like and DOS operating systems, the question mark
matches exactly one character; in DOS, if the question mark is placed at the end of the word, it will also match missing (zero) trailing characters. For example, in DOS, the pattern
, but not
In Unix shells and Windows PowerShell, ranges of characters enclosed in square brackets (
) match a single character within the range; for example,
matches any single uppercase or lowercase letter. Unix shells allow negation of the specified character set by using a leading
, which will match names like
). In shells that interpret
as a history substitution, a leading
can be used instead of
to negate the character set.
The operation of matching of wildcard patterns to multiple file or path names is referred to as globbing.
In SQL, wildcard characters can be used in LIKE expressions; the percent sign
matches zero or more characters, and underscore
a single character. Transact-SQL also supports square brackets (
) to list sets and ranges of characters to match, a leading caret
matches only a character not specified within the brackets. In Microsoft Access, wildcard characters can be used in LIKE expressions; the asterisk sign
matches zero or more characters, the question mark
matches a single character, the number sign
matches a single digit (
), and square brackets can be used to enclose sets or ranges of characters to match.
In regular expressions, the period (
, also called "dot") is the wildcard pattern character that matches a single character. Combined with the asterisk operator
it will match any number of characters.
In this case the asterisk is also known as the Kleene star.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the General Services Administration document "Federal Standard 1037C" (in support of MIL-STD-188).