Consider these three "haystack" strings:

a) foo bar

b) welcome to foo bar industries

c) foo barer

And now my "needle":

foo bar


I would like my filter to match my needle with haystack strings a & b but not c. I have tried:

$collection->addAttributeToFilter('name', array('like' => '%'.$needle.'%'));

But the above matches with c.

I also tried:

$collection->addAttributeToFilter('name', array('like' => '% '.$needle.' %')); // Note the spaces

The above only matches with b.

Any help is much appreciated.

3 Answers 3


Give this a try and see if it fits:

$collection->addAttributeToFilter('name', array(
    array('like' => '% '.$needle.' %'), //spaces on each side
    array('like' => '% '.$needle), //space before and ends with $needle
    array('like' => $needle.' %') // starts with needle and space after

Passing the second parameter as an array of arrays will concatenate the conditions using OR

  • That works :) Didn't know about the array trick, thanks.
    – beingalex
    Commented Nov 22, 2013 at 12:15
  • With custom / non-eav models addAttributeToFilter should be replace with addFieldToFilter.
    – jvalanen
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:44
  • Is there a way to determine which array returned a result? I am using this method to search a custom model collection (name,description,alternate_name fields) and I'd like to know if the result was hit because of the description (to include additional UI element on search results).
    – pspahn
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 1:12
  • 3
    @pspahn Not a straight forward one. You can loop through the results after the select is executed and check if the needle is found in any of the fields you want.
    – Marius
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 8:21
  • Hey @Marius how to apply like filter on custom collection I've tried ->addFieldToFilter('store_name', array( array('like' => '% '.$search_name.' %'), //spaces on each side array('like' => '% '.$search_name), //space before and ends with $search_name array('like' => $ but returning nothing
    – Asad Khan
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 9:05

A possible solution is to use REGEXP instead of LIKE:

$collection->addAttributeToFilter('name', array('regexp' => '[[:<:]]'.$needle.'[[:>:]]'));

From the MySQL documentation:

[[:<:]], [[:>:]]

These markers stand for word boundaries. They match the beginning and end of words, respectively. A word is a sequence of word characters that is not preceded by or followed by word characters. A word character is an alphanumeric character in the alnum class or an underscore (_).

Note that if $needle can contain characters that have special meanings in POSIX regular expressions, you need to escape them. See also: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/4024188/php-function-to-escape-mysql-regexp-syntax


The accepted answer doesn't work properly. It's checking only space before and after the text.

Suppose, you have following list

  • Jacket
  • Summer Jacket
  • Winter Jacket

Now if you try to search with jacket using the accepted answer, it will return only Summer Jacket and Winter Jacket

I think following solution is better

$collection->addAttributeToFilter('name', array('like' => '%' . $needle. '%'));
  • It would not cover case (c) from the question (i.e. also match "jacketing"). Instead, a fourth condition ['eq' => $needle] could be added to find exact matches (or better, use the regex solution which finds all boundaries, not only spaces) Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:57
  • above code is able to find the exact matches. I checked it Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 11:59
  • I did not doubt that. But it finds more, which it should not. At least if you have the same requirements as in the original question: Do not find "foo barer" when searching "foo bar" Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:37
  • Yes, you are right. The accepted answer was not working for me properly so I suggested the simple one-line filter for getting the likewise items. Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 4:18

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