2.1.131 [ECMA-262-1999] Section, Atom


The form (?! Disjunction ) specifies a zero-width negative lookahead. In order for it to succeed, the pattern inside Disjunction must fail to match at the current position. The current position is not advanced before matching the sequel. Disjunction can contain capturing parentheses, but backreferences to them only make sense from within Disjunction itself. Backreferences to these capturing parentheses from elsewhere in the pattern always return #undefined# __the empty string__ because the negative lookahead must fail for the pattern to succeed. For example,


looks for an a not immediately followed by some positive number n of a's, a b, another n a's (specified by the first \2) and a c. The second \2 is outside the negative lookahead, so it matches against undefined and therefore always succeeds. The whole expression returns the array:

["baaabaac", "ba", #undefined# __""__, "abaac"]