I was looking up at tips on screen shifting and came across the following tips:

zz = shift current line to middle of screen
zt = shift current line to top of screen
zb = shift current line to bottom of screen

My question is what is z? What does it stand for? what other functionality might z have?

  • 3
    With folding, it can visually represent a ... folded sheet of paper. Otherwise, a letter that has to be used, after all good letters were taken for "important" operations that could use a good mnemonic.
    – VanLaser
    Mar 22, 2016 at 23:27
  • 7
    My guess is that it stands for Zhift ;) Mar 23, 2016 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


z doesn't stand for anything. g and z were two letters that went unused as standalone commands (z<CR>, z., z+, z-, and z^ existed) in vi, so they have been repurposed in Vim as a prefix for a variety of commands.

:help z and :help g will show you all the commands that sit behind these prefixes.

  • 2
    One of my favorite commands uses both g and z. :g/pattern/z#.2
    – jecxjo
    Mar 23, 2016 at 14:52
  • 9
    and what does that command do? Jul 15, 2016 at 19:16
  • 2
    @DurgaSwaroop It finds all occurrences of pattern, and displays them in a list with line numbers
    – user70585
    Oct 18, 2017 at 21:37
  • Here is the description and example for usage of g and z.
    – SangminKim
    Jan 6, 2018 at 15:58
  • That 'Power of g' article doesnt explain it, it merely demonstrates it. Explanation is wanting.
    – markling
    Jan 22, 2022 at 12:53

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