I'm trying to add some readline keybindings into insert mode, like below,

inoremap <C-B> <Left>
inoremap <C-F> <Right>
inoremap <A-B> <C-Left>
inoremap <A-F> <C-Right>

The fist two work fine. However, when I try A-B, it goes back one word but changes the mode to normal mode. Also, A-f only acts as Esc key, changes the mode to normal mode. I have other Alt keybindings but they work fine. not sure what is special about these two.

NVIM v0.4.4 Debian buster/sid

Edit: some more info

  • terminal emulator: alacritty v0.4.3,
  • I don't use tmux and the like,
  • in terminal alt is ^[
  • in neovim alt is M for meta
  • TERM=xterm-256color
  • 1
    Welcome to Vi and Vim! Please also mention which terminal emulator you're using. And, if possible, which $TERM value you have. Are you inside tmux or screen or similar? If on the shell you start a command such as cat and type <Alt-F> or <Alt-B>, what shows up? Inside Vim, in insert mode, what does the sequences <Ctrl-V><Alt-F> produce?
    – filbranden
    Nov 21, 2020 at 22:42
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    @filbranden Thank you! my terminal emulator is alacritty v0.4.3. I don't use tmux and the like. in cat I see ^[f and ^[b respectively for A-f and A-b. inside neovim <Ctrl-V><Alt-F> produces <M-f>! it seems, in neovim alt acts as meta but in terminal alt is some escape sequence, so there is no meta key to be pressed actually. I'll update the question with these information.
    – Ali
    Nov 21, 2020 at 23:14
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    @filbranden sorry, I forgot. echo $term = xterm-256color
    – Ali
    Nov 21, 2020 at 23:37
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    @filbranden sorry, i forgot again. export TERM=alacritty didn't help.
    – Ali
    Nov 22, 2020 at 0:21
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    @filbranden I think I found pretty much what I needed. It's tim pope's vim-rsi plugin. It works in urxvt and xfce4-terminal. I havent checked it yet on alacritty since I moved to urxvt. Nevertheless, I'm not sure if this is the answer to the question or not. I'll put an edit in my question.
    – Ali
    Dec 3, 2020 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


If you want readline in your vim/neovim (my goal of asking this question), simply use Tim Pope's vim-rsi plugin.

  • Thanks for posting it as an answer!
    – filbranden
    Dec 10, 2020 at 20:05

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