The correct idiomatic verb is "in search of." The only time you see "in search for" is in headlines and titles like

--New Clues in Search for Missing Child

--Secrets Revealed in Search for Oldest Marine Fossil

In this style the noun "search" is just a noun, not part of an idiomatic verb.

Marilyn Martin
The idiom is "in search of." Here is a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms"

"in search of ....Also, in quest of. Looking for, seeking, as in They went to California in search of gold, or I went to the library in quest of a quiet place to read. The first term dates from the mid-1400s, the second from the second half of the 1500s." *

There is no definition for "in search for."

"In search of" has over four million hits on Google.

There is also a phrase "in THE (or another determiner) search for," which means almost exactly the same thing as "in search of." It has under one million hits.

"In search for" is usually an example of headline English. Headlines, and sometimes titles, as you know, often omit articles and other words in order to use fewer words. The thoughts that are abbreviated in the headline appear in normal English in the story.

Here's one example:

(Headline) Australia fossil to help in search for life on Mars

but the article itself has this language:

(Story) A discovery of the fossilized remains of the Earth's oldest life forms will help NASA in its search for life on Mars, scientists said Thursday.

Here's another:

(Headline) Progress in Search for Genetic Trigger of Pancreatic Cancer

(Story) February 28, 2002"” Researchers are reporting progress in the search for a gene mutation that triggers pancreatic cancer,

"In search for" has only 417,000 hits. "In THE search for" has double that, 870,000. However, the construction with a determiner is really much higher, as it includes "in my search for," "in your search for," etc.

You might use "in {somebody's) search for more often, perhaps in a conversation like this:

A: Where are you going to look in your search for the perfect man?
B: At the health food store.

A: Sally hasn't had much success in her search for a job.
B: Has she tried the government employment agency?

"In search of" is more general, less personal:

Columbus sailed west in search of India.
Many people spend their lives fruitlessly in search of greater wealth.
Diogenes was in search of an honest man.

* The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Ammer 1992 Trust. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1997

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