I have been using vim for a short time, so I may not know a lot, please forgive me.

There is a problem with my vim. It cannot enter normal mode from insert mode by pressing esc/ctrl-[ only once, but needs to press esc/ctrl-[ twice.

When I first press esc/ctrl-[ show command remind me I entered ^[. I have tried to turn off all the plugins I use, but it doesn't solve.

There is my vimrc file:

syntax enable

set showcmd
set relativenumber
set shiftwidth=4 tabstop=8
set notimeout
set autowrite

call plug#begin('~/.vim/plugged')

Plug 'vim-airline/vim-airline'
Plug 'ycm-core/YouCompleteMe'
Plug 'raimondi/delimitmate'

call plug#end()

System: Ubuntu 20.04, terminal vim, local

  • 1
    The first thing you should try is running with sane defaults in place of your vimrc. Add the Vim flag --clean when you launch. Next you could turn off your three plugins then turn them on/off one at a time to see if any are the cause. Basically you want to debug your vimrc. Here's a full treatment of that topic: How do I debug my vimrc file? Welcome to Vi&Vim SE.
    – B Layer
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:21
  • @BLayer Thank u!
    – BreezyMain
    Apr 17, 2021 at 1:36
  • No problem. If you narrow things down but don't fully solve the problem edit your question and add whatever new information you've found.
    – B Layer
    Apr 17, 2021 at 2:06
  • Does :imap <ESC> show any mappings that might be defined starting with the ESC key?
    – filbranden
    Apr 17, 2021 at 4:35
  • 1
    @BreezyMain By "yes", do you mean you did find such a mapping? Would you care to expand on what the mapping was? Like Ben mentioned on his answer, run it with :verbose to see where it was defined... Cheers!
    – filbranden
    Apr 17, 2021 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


As sussed out in the comments, you have mappings that begin with <esc> somewhere (and the surprise indicates you didn’t ask for them). You can use :verbose imap <esc> to find out where the mappings are coming from; in general, mappings with a prefix cause a delay whenever the prefix is entered, as vim has to distinguish between the prefix starting a mapping and not. In other words, vim has to wait for the keypress after the prefix (or a fixed amount of time; there are options to control it) to know what to do next.

I suggest getting rid of the mappings if possible. If you can identify what they are/where they come from, I can provide suggestions on how to remove them.


Thank you for answering the question. Although no body found what the problem is, I still be thank to you.

The reason is timeout and ttimeout is off as the same time. It caused my vim waiting a operation forever. The solution is open the timeout. If you want to let your vim to be faster, you can turn on ttimeout and set ttimeoutlen to a low value. my is 100.

  • Good catch! For some reason I guess we didn't think of ttimeout, which surely explains this... Also note that ttimeout (and a ttimeoutlen of 100) is set in defaults.vim, consider sourcing that file from your vimrc. See :help defaults.vim for more details on how to do that.
    – filbranden
    May 1, 2021 at 15:57

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