Backreferences \g1, \g2, ...


What is a backreference? How to use a backreference?

How to write a regular expression using a backreferences to capture 5-letter reversible words in a text string like this: civic, level, radar, rotor or stats?



Backreferences are references representing catured sub strings already matched in earlier groups. Backreferences are expressed as \g1, \g2, ... with \g1 referring the sub string resulted from the first group. For example:

(\w+)\s+\g1 # match the same word repeated

The regular expression to match 5-letter reversible words is:


(\w) - matches the first letter and capture it as the first group
(\w) - matches the second letter and capture it as the second group
\w - matches the third letter
\g2 - the fourth letter must match the second group result
\g1 - the fifth letter must match the first group result

Click the button to test this regular expression here online:

2013-01-23, 0👍, 0💬