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There is a standard for providing files that may have an unversioned counterpart. That standard consists in suffixing the filename with .dist, so for example phpunit.xml becomes phpunit.xml.dist. How can I tell vim that whenever it sees that suffix, it should remove it when attempting to determine the filetype?

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Put this into

~/.vim/ftdetect/dist.vim

autocmd BufNewFile,BufRead ?\+.dist
    \ execute 'doautocmd filetypedetect BufRead' fnameescape(expand('<afile>:r'))

Basically we strip the .dist extension and re-execute the filetype-detection routine. A similar code is used in $VIMRUNTIME/filetype.vim to detect filetype for *.bak, *.old and a few other "generic" extensions. Unfortunately, *.dist isn't found there.

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    Thank you! When I think of all these years I wasted not asking this question… – greg0ire Aug 27 '20 at 18:24

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