In my code, something like

#include <whatever>

is highlighted: #include (which belongs to the group 'cInclude') in pink; and <whatever> (belonging to the group 'cIncluded') in red. (Edit: whatever is any word.)

Also, to highlight the word vector according to the 'Type' style (in green) I do the following:

:call matchadd('Type','\<vector\>',0)

Here, 0 sets the priority to a low value. With this, my intention is that in

#include <vector>

, <vector> is highlighted according to the group 'cIncluded', and not according to the group 'Type'.

Unexpectedly, I do not get that result. The highlight for <vector> in #include <vector> turns out to be:

< in red (as in the group 'cIncluded')

vector in green (as in the group 'Type')

> in red (as in the group 'cIncluded')


  • 1
    \< and \> actually mean start-of-word and end-of-word in Vims regexp Sep 18, 2018 at 8:00
  • Yes, I am aware of that. I only want to highlight the word 'vector' when it is alone, but I do not want to highlight it inside the word 'vectorize', for example.
    – Godoy
    Sep 18, 2018 at 8:10
  • 1
    But you most likely want to have the < and > also included in your match, if I understand the question correctly, right? Sep 18, 2018 at 8:27
  • I want vector to be highlighted in green everywhere in the code except in the excerpt #include <vector>, where it should be highlighted in red. And I do not want vectorize to be highlighted.
    – Godoy
    Sep 18, 2018 at 8:34

2 Answers 2


From help matchadd:

Syntax highlighting (see 'syntax') is a separate mechanism, and regardless of the chosen priority a match will always overrule syntax highlighting.

To match everywhere except certain contexts, you can use zero-width atoms:

:call matchadd('Type', '\(#include <\)\@<!\<vector\>')
:call matchadd('Type', '\<vector\>\(>\)\@!')

The first matches the complete word vector if not preceded by #include <, and the second matches when it's not followed by >. Together, these should cover all occurrences of the word other than inside #include <vector>.

  • Thank you for the workaround. However, my question is why the priority that I set does not work.
    – Godoy
    Sep 18, 2018 at 9:23
  • Edited to add the relevant excerpt from the docs
    – JigglyNaga
    Sep 18, 2018 at 9:32

I would consider using syntax matching instead of matchadd() for this:

:syntax match Type /\<vector\>/

Because you are not specifying containedin, this will not match inside the cIncluded group that already exists. See :help :syn-containedin.

  • This is the best way to get the highlighting that I was looking for.
    – Godoy
    Sep 18, 2018 at 17:24

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