(Not recommended) Find possible matches for string

strmatch is not recommended. Use startsWith, strncmp, or validatestring, depending on your requirements, instead. startsWith and strncmp return a logical array indicating which array elements begin with the specified string, whereas validatestring returns a single string that represents the best match to the specified string. See Example 2, below.

To find an exact match for a string, use strcmp.


x = strmatch(str, strarray)
x = strmatch(str, strarray, 'exact')


x = strmatch(str, strarray) looks through the rows of the character array or cell array of character vectors strarray to find character vectors that begin with the text contained in str, and returns the matching row indices. If strmatch does not find str in strarray, x is an empty matrix ([]). Any trailing space characters in str or strarray are ignored when matching. strmatch is fastest when strarray is a character array.

x = strmatch(str, strarray, 'exact') compares str with each row of strarray, looking for an exact match of the entire character vector. Any trailing space characters in str or strarray are ignored when matching.


Example 1

The statement

x = strmatch('max', char('max', 'minimax', 'maximum'))

returns x = [1; 3] since rows 1 and 3 begin with 'max'. The statement

x = strmatch('max', char('max', 'minimax', 'maximum'),'exact')

returns x = 1, since only row 1 matches 'max' exactly.

Example 2

This example shows how to replace use of the strmatch function with validatestring or strncmp.

To start with, use strmatch to return the index of those elements for which there is a match:

list = {'max', 'minimax', 'maximum', 'max'}
x = strmatch('max',list)
x =

validatestring returns the string representing the best match. If multiple or no matches exist, this statement would return an error:

list = {'max', 'minimax', 'maximum', 'max'};
x = validatestring('max', list)
x =

strncmp returns a logical array indicating which strings match the specified string:

list = {'max', 'minimax', 'maximum', 'max'};
x = strncmp('max', list, 3)
x =
     1     0     1     1

If you prefer that MATLAB return the numeric indices of list, use find as follows:

list = {'max', 'minimax', 'maximum', 'max'}
x = find(strncmp(list, 'max', 3))

If your input to strmatch is a character array with multiple rows, then first convert the character array to a cell array using cellstr. Then, pass the output from cellstr to strncmp or validatestring

Introduced before R2006a