class & function names highlighting in Vim


I just recently set up my Vim environment from Textmate, after becoming addicted to its modal input.

However, syntax highlighting seems to be not so beautiful in Vim. I code in C++ and since the function call and class names can't be highlighted, the code is more difficult to read. I played with color scheme for a bit, but couldn't find any field that corresponded to "class name" or "function name".

In the picture below, notice how DroughtLayer:: and *.size() is not highlighted on the right in MacVim.

Picture comparison between Textmate(left) and Vim(right)

Any ideas how to solve this? It really annoys me as I am so much a visual-sensitive guy.

3/10/2019 2:00:55 PM

Accepted Answer

Interestingly, the syntax highlighters in VIM don't support applying a syntax to identifiers or function names - at least not the syntax highlighters for C and C++. So, even if you do:

:hi Function guifg=red


:hi Identifier guifg=red

it doesn't give these a color. I just seems to be not much more than keywords and constants for these languages.

Here, someone has started extending the cpp syntax file to support method names. It's a start I guess.

4/15/2009 3:49:12 PM

I had this very same problem when I started using vim. The solution is simple, you just have to edit the c syntax file used by vim, here's how to do it:

When you start editing a C or C++ file, vim reads the default c syntax file located in


(Where $VIMRUNTIME is where you have vim installed. You can find out it's default value by opening vim and using the command ":echo $VIMRUNTIME").

You can simply overwrite that file, or you can create your custom C syntax file (which will be loaded by vim instead of the default one) in this location:

$HOME/.vim/syntax/c.vim      (for UNIX)
$HOME/vimfiles/syntax/c.vim  (for PC or OS/2)

(I have never used a Mac so I dunno which one will work for you. You can find out more in the vim help, ":help vimfiles")

Now the fun part. Copy the default "$VIMRUNTIME/syntax/c.vim" file to your vimfiles directory ("$HOME/.vim/syntax/c.vim" for UNIX), and edit it by adding these lines:

" Highlight Class and Function names
syn match    cCustomParen    "(" contains=cParen,cCppParen
syn match    cCustomFunc     "\w\+\s*(" contains=cCustomParen
syn match    cCustomScope    "::"
syn match    cCustomClass    "\w\+\s*::" contains=cCustomScope

hi def link cCustomFunc  Function
hi def link cCustomClass Function

That's it! Now functions and class names will be highlighted with the color defined in the "Function" highlight (":hi Function"). If you want to customize colors, you can change the last two lines above to something like this:

hi def cCustomFunc  gui=bold guifg=yellowgreen
hi def cCustomClass gui=reverse guifg=#00FF00

or you can leave the C syntax file alone and define colors in your vimrc file (":help vimrc"):

hi cCustomFunc  gui=bold guifg=yellowgreen
hi cCustomClass gui=reverse guifg=#00FF00

(Note the absence of the "def" keyword, go to ":help highlight-default" for details). For the available parameters to the ":hi" command see ":help :highlight".

You can find the complete c.vim file for Vim 7.2 on this link (Note: only use this if you have a non-modified Vim, version 7.2):

And the obligatory screenshot:

enter image description here

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