From Google Spokesperson, Nate Tyler:
Today, Google introduced a new advanced search feature that enables users to search not only for a particular keyword, but also for its synonyms. This is accomplished by placing a ~ character directly in front of the keyword in the search box.
For example, to search for browser help as well as browser guides and tutorials users can search for browser ~help. The ~ character was chosen because it's shorthand for approximate and a good way for users to express their wish to expand searches to include synonyms. More information about this feature is available.
This enhancement shows that Google continuies to develop new resources that enable users to refine their searches to find the information they need. I hope you find the ~ operator useful - please take a look and let me know if you have any questions.
Posted by Aaron Swartz on August 04, 2003 09:47 AM