In perl when matching multi-line strings you can add the s modifier /.../s that will change the semantics of . to match also newline. Is there something similar for string-match? Or is there a workaround?

  • Are you asking for a way to convert regular expressions that have . to additionally match new lines or how to match any character including newline in general? Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 19:54
  • 2
    FWIW, I asked that this ability be added to Elisp regexps long ago: 1 and 2. Went nowhere...
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 23:37
  • @Drew: For the perl m modifier I can used instead of ^ and $ the escaped `` \` `` and `` \' `` (hard to write in markdown). But for . it doesnt seem to exist. Feels indeed like something that would be helpful if added. Phils answer below does work. I tried before with [[:asci:][:nonascii]] but stangely that failes if there is a unicode sequence embedded in the textstream anyway. Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 6:28
  • Yes, @phils's answer is what we have to do (and have always had to do): specify "either a newline char or a char other than newline". My comment was to point out that I think Elisp regexps should offer a short way of specifying that.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


No, you can't make . match newlines; you have to simply state what you want to match. e.g.: "\\(?:.\\|\n\\)"

However if you use rx to generate your regexp, then note that it provides distinct symbols for the two cases:

`not-newline', `nonl'
     matches any character except a newline.

     matches any character


(rx "foo" anything "bar")
=> "foo\\(?:.\\|

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