I know it is possible to match for the word and using tools options reverse the match. (eg. by
grep -v) However I want to know if it is possible using regular expressions to match lines which does not contain a specific word, say hede?
Hoho Hihi Haha hede
# grep "Regex for do not contain hede" Input
Hoho Hihi Haha
The fact that regex doesn't support inverse matching is not entirely true. You can mimic this behavior by using negative look-arounds:
The regex above will match any string, or line without a line break, not containing the (sub) string 'hede'. As mentioned, this is not something regex is "good" at (or should do), but still, it is possible.
A string is just a list of
n characters. Before, and after each character, there's an empty string. So a list of
n characters will have
n+1 empty strings. Consider the string
+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+ S = |e1| A |e2| B |e3| h |e4| e |e5| d |e6| e |e7| C |e8| D |e9| +--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+---+--+ index 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
e's are the empty strings. The regex
(?!hede). looks ahead to see if there's no substring
"hede" to be seen, and if that is the case (so something else is seen), then the
. (dot) will match any character except a line break. Look-arounds are also called zero-width-assertions because they don't consume any characters. They only assert/validate something.
So, in my example, every empty string is first validated to see if there's no
"hede" up ahead, before a character is consumed by the
. (dot). The regex
(?!hede). will do that only once, so it is wrapped in a group, and repeated zero or more times:
((?!hede).)*. Finally, the start- and end-of-input are anchored to make sure the entire input is consumed:
As you can see, the input
"ABhedeCD" will fail because on
e3, the regex
(?!hede) fails (there is
"hede" up ahead!).