Say that I have pattern aaaaapple in my text file, and say that I configured vim so that it conceals a\+.

What will happen is that, if conceallevel=1, then aaaaapple will become _pple. Note that aaaaa is replaced by a single space _ (I'm writing spaces as _ due to technical difficulties). This causes the line to jiggle/dance every time I hover on the concealed word, due to the single space _ expanding into 5 characters aaaaa.

What I want is to conceal aaaaapple such that it becomes _____pple instead of _pple. This way, when I move to the line where this conceal happened, the text won't jiggle/dance by expanding/shrinking. I.e. it looks like _____pple before hovering on it, and aaaaapple after hovering on it. No jiggling!

Any idea how to do this conceal such that each concealed character is replaced by a space (and not replacing all concealed characters by a single space)?

2 Answers 2


Instead of matching all duplicate "a"s in a single match, try concealing each extra "a" in its own, concealed group:

syn match HideAa "a\zea" conceal

Because this conceals only a single "a" with its own syntax group conceal, it will effectively apply a concealing space to each "a".

  • Thanks. It works! An extra variation: is it possible to make this conceal apply only when aaaaapple is prefixed by, say, xx? E.g. only xxaaaaapple` becomes _______pple, but aaaaapple (without xx) to not become _____pple?
    – caveman
    Nov 21, 2019 at 23:25
  • You can do it with 2 commands together: syn match HideAa "a\zea" conceal contained and syn match HideXxAa "xxa\+" contains=HideAa
    – nickspoon
    Nov 21, 2019 at 23:35
  • Something to note: this will "consume" the first a, so that no other match can overlap with it
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Nov 22, 2019 at 1:59

See :h concealcursor. It controls which modes will be activated for conceal. In this case you want to disable it for normal mode. I recommend trying setl concealcursor=vic

  • I'm not sure the OP wants to disable conceal in normal mode—that's not my read of the question
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Nov 22, 2019 at 1:58

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