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See also: back-reference


Alternative forms[edit]


From back +‎ reference


backreference (plural backreferences)

  1. (regular expressions) An item in a regular expression equivalent to the text matched by an earlier pattern in the expression.
    • 2003, Rob Brooks-Bilson, Programming ColdFusion MX
      The third part of the regular expression, \1, is the backreference and tells ColdFusion to refer back to the first subexpression []
    • 2005, Ivan Ristic, Apache security:
      Path traversal occurs when directory backreferences are used in a path to gain access to the parent folder of a subfolder.


backreference (third-person singular simple present backreferences, present participle backreferencing, simple past and past participle backreferenced)

  1. (regular expressions, transitive) To access (the text matched by an earlier pattern in a regular expression).
    • 2009, Larry Ullman, Ruby: Visual QuickStart Guide, page 237:
      By wrapping it in parentheses, the attributes can be reused by backreferencing this part of the pattern []
    • 2012, Tom Christiansen, brian d foy[sic], Larry Wall, Programming Perl (page 46)
      It doesn't change what the part matches, so /\d+/ and /(\d+)/ will still match as many digits as possible, but in the latter case they will be remembered in a special variable to be backreferenced later.