Given a list:

(setq mylist '("a1" "a2" "b1" "b2"))

How to delete all elements that match ^a?

What I want is "a1" and "a2" deleted, only left "b1" and "b2" in the list.

  • Note that "alist" is lisp terminology meaning "association list", which is a very specific kind of structure. I've edited the code to eliminate that confusion.
    – phils
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 15:40
  • Note also that ^ matches beginning-of-line, not beginning-of-string; see (elisp) Syntax of Regexps for how to do the latter, which is probably what you want here.
    – Basil
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 19:59
  • @Drew Ah, we're at editing cross-purposes here. I've been removing references to alist (because there was none -- I honestly thought it was probably a contraction of "a list" which was written without knowledge of association lists). You've been adding them, though :) AFAICS the question isn't actually about alists.
    – phils
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 23:42
  • @phils: Sorry; my bad. You're right, of course. The question is not about alists.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 1:38

2 Answers 2


Do you want a new list that has only elements "b1" and "b2"? Or do you want the same list structure, but modified to have removed elements "a1" and "a2"?

@rpluim shows one way to do the former. A similar way to do the latter is to use cl-delete-if instead of cl-remove-if.

(setq mylist  (cl-delete-if (lambda (k) (string-match-p "^a" k)) mylist)

(Make sure you set variable mylist to the result returned by cl-delete-if, if you expect that variable's value to reflect the deletion properly in all cases. See the Elisp manual, node Rearrangement for more about this.)

  • My name has an i in it, but single-character edits are not allowed. sigh
    – rpluim
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 7:47
  • @rpluim: Sorry 'bout that; corrected.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 13:42

There are many ways to do this, here's one:

(setq mylist (cl-remove-if (lambda (k)
                            (string-match "^a" k))

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