Search or swipe for the current word

It is often handy to search for the word at the current cursor position. By default, you can do this by starting a normal isearch with C-s and then hitting C-w to search for the current word. Keep hitting C-w to add subsequent words to the search.

If, like me, you use swiper for your searches, you can obtain the same effect using M-j after you start swiper.

This is all very nice, but both of those solutions above search for the string from the cursor position to the end of the word, so if “|” marks the cursor position in the word prag|matic, then either method above would search for matic. I made a small tweak to the relevant function in the ivy library that powers swiper so that the whole of the word is used, so in the example above M-j would search for the full pragmatic string.

Here is the code:

;; version of ivy-yank-word to yank from start of word
(defun bjm/ivy-yank-whole-word ()
  "Pull next word from buffer into search string."
  (let (amend)
      ;;move to last word boundary
      (re-search-backward "\\b")
      (let ((pt (point))
            (le (line-end-position)))
        (forward-word 1)
        (if (> (point) le)
            (goto-char pt)
          (setq amend (buffer-substring-no-properties pt (point))))))
    (when amend
      (insert (replace-regexp-in-string "  +" " " amend)))))

;; bind it to M-j
(define-key ivy-minibuffer-map (kbd "M-j") 'bjm/ivy-yank-whole-word)


An offline commenter pointed out that Xah Lee has a nice alternative implementation of this functionality using isearch.

  • Clément Pit-Claudel

    Neat! Are you familiar with the `M-s .` binding?

    • I was not until now! I have M-s bound to avy, but maybe I should rethink! Thanks.

  • abo-abo

    Did you try “M-n” instead of “M-j” with ivy?

    • Thanks – I had missed the fact that “M-n” had this functionality in addition to navigating the ivy history – very nice! The only (small) advantage I can see with “M-j” as above is that repeated presses add more words to the search, while for “M-n” they do not.