I want to use a hexadecimal Unicode escape in the replacement string of a substitution command, i.e., with the example character U+20AC:


The above example doesn't work, because it uses Perl syntax in the replacement string, but I want this to work in Vim, and I want it to work for many different other possible Unicode characters too, specified by their hexadecimal value (2 or 4 digits or possibly even more). Since this is a series of substitution statements that will be generated by a script, I would like the substitution statements itself to be ASCII-only, as that is easier to work with. I think there must be a proper syntax for this, but I just cannot find it. \%u20AC works in the search pattern, but not in the replacement string. As this is not done interactively, the CTRL-V + 4 hex digits method won't work.

3 Answers 3



See :help sub-replace-expression and :help nr2char() in Vim.

Or, if 20AC is really a constant, you can type : s # something # <Ctrl-V> u 20AC # g <Enter>, giving


See :help i_ctrl-v in Vim.

  • Okay, this is slightly more readable than what I found myself, although strictly speaking a bit more complicated since it uses a function call. The ctrl-V method was not applicable, I already mentioned it in the question. But it might be useful for other readers.
    – gpvos
    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:10
  • 1
    In a script you can write execute "s#something#\u20AC#g". The \u is interpreted because it appears in a doublequoted string, and the result is then interpreted by execute.
    – AlexP
    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:17
  • That would be in a Vim script. I was thinking of a Perl script generating Vim commands (from some input file specifying mappings) to be executed by @x in Vim. But it's also a good tip, thanks. (And yeah, I could do the whole substitution in Perl, but I don't want to do it on every line, so I do that bit interactively. I just was surprised that there was no easy direct way to do it.)
    – gpvos
    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:30
  • @x executes a Vim script. Have your Perl program generate the execute command.
    – AlexP
    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:32
  • 1
    In normal mode, @ executes the contents of a register as a sequence of keys. In command mode, :@ executes the contents of a register as a script.
    – AlexP
    Nov 26, 2018 at 12:41

The other answers are fine; string interpolation via :execute is a method that is particularly suited to scripting, so I'm mentioning that as well.

You can use the :help <Char> notation within double-quoted strings:

let char = "\<Char-0x20AC>"
execute 's#something#' . char . '#g'

Or convert a number via nr2char():

let value = 0x20AC
execute 's#something#' . nr2char(value) . '#g'

After some more doc reading, I found at least one, very elaborate way to do this, using a substution expression:


I prefer it because it is built right into the parser, instead of using a Vimscript function call.

One would hope there is an easier (more direct) way to do this though.

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