I want to search for an exact word in Vim in command mode (using Vim command /wordtosearch, NOT the search of the current word at the cursor using * or # commands), e.g. I would like to search for an exact word say CIF but I do not want to find CIF_handle or CIF_drv.

How to make Vim search for exact word in the command mode?

(I don't mind the case of the word searched, because I already have ignorecase set.)

2 Answers 2


Use regular expressions:


In other words, enclose your search string between \< and \>

  • @Thanks: workd nicely. Does enclosing the word in \< .. \> make it a regex based search.
    – goldenmean
    Oct 29, 2010 at 10:19
  • Yes, it's a regex search. Oct 29, 2010 at 10:22
  • But what do u do if u need to search for a string like "1...". It will highlight all numbers starting with 1 and not the string with the dots.
    – scigor
    Nov 9, 2012 at 10:43
  • Doesn't work with brackets.
    – user530079
    Jul 6, 2017 at 14:52
  • How do you configure vim to behave with an exact word search without needing to wrap it with \< and \> char. Can vim be made to do exact word search by /eightFoldPaths ?
    – daparic
    Sep 14, 2019 at 21:43

I just had tried to use /\<*> to search literally * sign in vim, obviously it also counted space in the list. here is the possible way to do it in a Very Nomagic way,


for for more detail :help \V

  • 1
    Sorry, but this is not an answer to the question stated. If you want to add information to the accepted answer, you may want to add a comment over there.
    – Edward
    Aug 23, 2016 at 8:05

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