Source definition may not contain – How to solve this Elasticsearch exception

Opster Team

August-23, Version: 6.8-8.9

Briefly, this error occurs when an Elasticsearch query is made with an empty object {} in the source field. Elasticsearch expects specific fields or wildcards in the source field, not an empty object. To resolve this issue, you can either remove the empty object from the source field or replace it with the specific fields you want to retrieve. Alternatively, if you want to retrieve all fields, you can use a wildcard (*) in the source field.

This guide will help you check for common problems that cause the log ” source definition may not contain [{}] ” to appear. To understand the issues related to this log, read the explanation below about the following Elasticsearch concepts: source.

Log Context

Log “source definition may not contain [{}]” class name is We extracted the following from Elasticsearch source code for those seeking an in-depth context :

 if ("includes".equals(currentFieldName) || "include".equals(currentFieldName)) {
 currentList = includes != null ? includes : (includes = new ArrayList<>(2));
 } else if ("excludes".equals(currentFieldName) || "exclude".equals(currentFieldName)) {
 currentList = excludes != null ? excludes : (excludes = new ArrayList<>(2));
 } else {
 throw new ElasticsearchParseException("source definition may not contain [{}]"; parser.text());
 } else if (token == Token.START_ARRAY) {
 while ((token = parser.nextToken()) != Token.END_ARRAY) {


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