I'm using Vim with the Vaxe plugin for syntax highlighting, the plugin's highlighting file is here for reference.

I'm trying to add some conceals to tidy up the code visually, but I can't seem to get anything to apply.

The simplest thing I'm trying to achieve as to conceal the word "package" as just the letter "p".

Using various plugins like SyntaxAttr.vim, I determined the syntax attributes for the word package are:

hi<haxeTypeDecl> trans<haxeTypeDecl> lo<Statement>

So I try to add it with:

:syn match haxeTypeDecl /package/ conceal cchar=p

The entry seems to be added as I can see it with ":syn" as:

haxeTypeDecl   xxx abstract interface from import to using enum class package
               match /^class\>/
               match /[^.]\s*\<class\>/ms=s+1
               match /package/  conceal
               links to Keyword

Then I set conceal level to 2, but the text is not concealed. It works when I test it in an empty stand alone document, but doesn't in a real document. I'm guessing I'm not properly overriding the highlighting, but I'm not sure what I'm meant to do. Do I make my own group and linked it with ":hl! link"?, add a match higher priority match with matchadd()? Do I have to also override the Statement group or the Keywords group? Vim's syntax highlighting seems unbelievably dense.

Thank's in advance!

  • 2
    Does it change anything if you type :syn match haxeTypeDecl /package/ conceal containedin=ALL cchar=p instead of :syn match haxeTypeDecl /package/ conceal cchar=p (basically just adding the containedin=ALL argument) ?
    – saginaw
    Dec 3, 2015 at 0:54
  • No, not besides the having the tag in the ":syn" menu. Dec 3, 2015 at 3:20

2 Answers 2


The problem in your case is that the syntax highlighting script for your package defines a keyword (enter :h syn-keyword for more details) and that always has priority before any of the syn-match or syn-region rules.

In your case, I would therefore simply use a matchadd() call like this:

 :call matchadd('Conceal', 'package', 10, 99, {'conceal': 'p'})
 :set conceallevel=2 concealcursor=nv

This requires a relatively new Vim version (I don't remember the exact patch level, but a 7.4.700 should work)

  • This works, thank you, another quick question, is there an easy way to to conceal with multiple characters? For example if I wanted "package" to become "pa", it seems to only use the first character. Dec 3, 2015 at 19:49
  • I don't think this is possible. You could possibly work around that by matching 'pack\zeage' and 'pack\zsage' and use different conceal chars. Dec 4, 2015 at 7:17
  • Can the conceal through call matchadd exist solely for a given filetype? By simply calling the command I get the conceal applied globally.
    – oblitum
    Aug 27, 2016 at 7:37
  • @pepper_chico what do you mean by globally? match functions are window local by default. Aug 27, 2016 at 19:54
  • @ChristianBrabandt I mean that on au FileType purescript call matchadd('Conceal', '\\', 10, 99, {'conceal': 'λ'}), for example, after a open a purescript file, the conceal is active for any other file.
    – oblitum
    Aug 27, 2016 at 20:05

Based on the discussion I've started in the comments section of the Christian Brabandt answer, I'll leave here this alternative solution for anyone interested in a filetype specific approach:

set conceallevel=2
au FileType purescript set concealcursor=vin
au WinEnter,BufEnter,BufRead,FileType,Colorscheme *
    \ if exists('w:lambda_conceal')                                                                  |
    \     call matchdelete(w:lambda_conceal)                                                         |
    \     unlet w:lambda_conceal                                                                     |
    \ endif                                                                                          |
    \ if &ft == 'purescript'                                                                         |
    \     let w:lambda_conceal = matchadd('Conceal', '\\\%([^\\]\+→\)\@=', 10, -1, {'conceal': 'λ'}) |
    \     hi! link Conceal Operator                                                                  |
    \ endif

The previous sample will conceal \ with λ in the Purescript filetype solely, constrained to anonymous lambdas and if there's a character present afterwards. It also links the Conceal highlighting group with the Operator group so that it looks like an operator.

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