Returns the first position of the given search string.


LOCATE (needle, haystack)
LOCATE (needle, haystack, startpos)


  • needle: string to search for

  • haystack: any string or binary object

  • startpos: character position to start searching at


This function is identical to INSTR but with the arguments reversed.

Return Type

Integer position, one-indexed. 0 if not found.


SELECT LOCATE('i', 'ohai');
| LOCATE('i', 'ohai') |
|                   4 |
SELECT LOCATE('z', 'ohai');
| LOCATE('z', 'ohai') |
|                   0 |
SELECT LOCATE('i', 'ohaiohai', 6);
| LOCATE('i', 'ohaiohai', 6) |
|                          8 |


Implicit Collation

When character_set_server is set to utf8, string literals with characters using 4-byte encoding are implicitly assigned binary collation and processed as a sequence of bytes rather than characters. This implicit conversion to binary collation causes string functions to return unexpected results. To avoid using implicit binary collation, either use explicit type casting or use database columns defined with the utf8mb4 character set.

For more information, refer to Implicit Collation in Special Cases.

Last modified: April 4, 2023

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