I have the following Vim code which highlights trailing whitespace in red:

highlight ExtraWhitespace ctermbg=red guibg=red
match ExtraWhitespace /\s\+$/

But instead of making the color "red", I want to use the color scheme's default error color. I tried using "error" instead of "red", but that didn't work and it gave me an error saying that the color is not recognized.

1 Answer 1


One simple way is to link ExtraWhitespace to Error with

colorscheme whatever
hi link ExtraWhitespace Error

Or if you use :h colorscheme-override:

augroup my_colorschemes
  au Colorscheme pablo hi link ExtraWhitespace Error
augroup END
colorscheme pablo

In recent vim you can also use combination of hlget()/hlset() functions to target specific colors in highlighting:

let hl_err = hlget('Error')[0]
call hlset([{"name": "ExtraWhitespace", "ctermbg": hl_err.ctermbg, "guibg": hl_err.guibg}])
  • The first solution worked for me but I would like to inverse the foreground and background colors. Is this possible? As for the third solution, it told me that the hlget function doesn't exist, I am on Neovim version 0.7.2.
    – Amarakon
    Sep 1, 2022 at 22:27
  • @Amarakon, I don't know if neovim has similar functions, you can check its help, I guess.
    – Maxim Kim
    Sep 2, 2022 at 4:27
  • hlget() was added to Vim fairly recently @Amarakon (Nov last year); there's a PR to port it to Neovim, but it hasn't seen activity for a while. Sep 2, 2022 at 7:12
  • Is there a way to use highlight link ExtraWhiteSpace Error and then invert ExtraWhiteSpace foreground and background colors without using hlget()?
    – Amarakon
    Sep 2, 2022 at 13:37
  • @Amarakon I don't think so. But you can pick up colors Error uses and use them directly.
    – Maxim Kim
    Sep 2, 2022 at 13:59

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