I have this \(\w[^\w\u370-\u3ff\u1f00-\u1fff]*\)\([\u370-\u3ff\u1f00-\u1fff][^\w]*[\u370-\u3ff\u1f00-\u1fff]\)\([^\w]*\w\), which I need to improve, but it is getting uncomfortably complicated; is it possible to define shorthands for expressions that are reused, such as \u370-\u3ff\u1f00-\u1fff? or is there some other way to make this easier to work with?

  • 2
    The Perl way would be to use (?<group-num>). Looking through :h regex, there's no Vim equivalent. How are you using this pattern? You could build it from variables, depending on how you use it.
    – muru
    Feb 23, 2016 at 1:17
  • @muru, how can I reference variables in a / search? if I :let pat = "testpattern" and /pat(), vim searches for "pat()", not "testpattern".
    – Toothrot
    Feb 23, 2016 at 7:54
  • I am using the pattern to enclose Greek passages in \gr{…}. :%s//\1\\gr{\2}\3. I need to improve it to include cases where a line begins or ends with Greek, and maybe where Gr. spans over a few lines.
    – Toothrot
    Feb 23, 2016 at 7:58
  • I seem to recall that Vim doesn't support ranges for multibyte characters. I may be wrong though; perhaps ask on vim_dev. Feb 23, 2016 at 15:17
  • @SatoKatsura, I read that too, but it does work.
    – Toothrot
    Feb 23, 2016 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


You can define a variable holding your pattern like this: :let g:pat='...' (Note the use of single quotation marks, to prevent side-effects).

Then you can search for that variable like this: :%s/<C-R>=g:pat<cr>/replacement_part/g This is described at :h c_CTRL-R_= or possibly easier: :exe '%s/'.g:pat.'/replacement/g' (you could also wrap this in a printf() call)

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