How to Search for a Variable in a Column using SQLite3 with `%{variable}%` Format

What will you learn?

Discover how to search for a variable within a column using SQLite3, employing syntax akin to %{variable}% for pattern matching.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

Imagine needing to pinpoint occurrences of a specific variable within a column stored in an SQLite3 database. This task mirrors the functionality of SQL’s LIKE operator, where % acts as a wildcard representing any sequence of characters. The objective here is to replicate this behavior when querying data in SQLite3 columns.

To tackle this challenge effectively, we’ll harness the power of the sqlite3 library in Python. Our focus will be on crafting queries that integrate the essential syntax for seamless pattern matching.


import sqlite3

# Connect to the database
conn = sqlite3.connect('database.db')
cursor = conn.cursor()

# Define the variable we want to search for
search_variable = 'example'

# Execute query with pattern matching similar to '%{variable}%'
cursor.execute("SELECT * FROM table_name WHERE column_name LIKE '%' || ? || '%'", (search_variable,))
results = cursor.fetchall()

for row in results:

# Close connection

# Copyright PHD

Note: Ensure you substitute ‘database.db’, ‘table_name’, and ‘column_name’ with your actual database file name, table name, and column name respectively.


In-depth Explanation of Concepts:

  • SQLite LIKE Operator: Enables pattern matching using wildcard characters like %.
  • String Concatenation (||): Utilized in SQL queries for string combination.
  • Placeholder Binding: Safely inserts variables into SQL queries.
  • Pattern Matching Syntax: Harnessing wildcards (%) for flexible searches.
    How does pattern matching work with the LIKE operator?

    When utilizing LIKE, you can define patterns containing wildcard characters such as % (zero or more characters) and _ (a single character).

    Can multiple conditions be combined during searches?

    Absolutely! You can incorporate logical operators like AND, OR, etc., alongside pattern matching conditions.

    Is case sensitivity an issue when employing LIKE?

    By default, text comparison is case-insensitive; however, it hinges on collation settings established during database creation.

    What if I seek an exact match rather than a partial one?

    For precise matches devoid of wildcards, simply input the specific value instead of leveraging any wildcard characters.

    How should escaped characters within search terms be handled?

    Precede special characters like single quotes (‘), backslashes (), etc., before integrating them into your query string.

    Can regular expressions be utilized instead of simple patterns?

    SQLite lacks built-in support for regular expressions; consider implementing custom logic post-fetching data from the DB if necessary.


    You have now acquired proficiency in executing searches that mimic %{variable}% behavior on columns through SQLite3 queries. This approach facilitates efficient data retrieval based on specified patterns. For additional guidance or insights pertaining specifically to Python programming concepts and practices, explore

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