What Data Type Is Regex?


Heather Bennett

What Data Type Is Regex?

Regular expressions, commonly referred to as regex, are powerful tools used for pattern matching in strings. In programming, regex is not considered a specific data type on its own. Instead, it is implemented as a string or a sequence of characters that follows a specific syntax.

The Syntax of Regular Expressions:

Regex patterns are constructed using a combination of normal characters and special characters called metacharacters. These metacharacters have special meanings within the regex syntax. Let’s take a look at some commonly used metacharacters:

  • . – Matches any single character except for a newline character.
  • \d – Matches any digit (0-9).
  • \w – Matches any alphanumeric character (a-z, A-Z, 0-9).
  • \s – Matches any whitespace character (space, tab, newline).
  • [ ] – Matches any single character within the specified set.
  • * – Matches zero or more occurrences of the preceding element.

Using Regex in Programming:

In programming languages like JavaScript and Python, regex patterns are typically defined as strings enclosed within forward slashes (/pattern/). For example:


The above regex pattern matches a phone number in the format xxx-xxx-xxxx, where each x represents a digit from 0 to 9.

To use regular expressions in code, you can utilize built-in functions or methods provided by the programming language. These functions allow you to search, manipulate, and extract information based on regex patterns.

Regex Examples:

Let’s explore some common use cases of regex:

Email Validation:


This pattern matches a valid email address that follows the standard format: username@domain.com.

URL Extraction:


This pattern matches URLs starting with “http://” or “https://”, followed by a domain name.

Date Formatting:


This pattern matches dates in the format mm/dd/yyyy.


Although regex is not considered a distinct data type in programming languages, it plays a vital role in pattern matching and string manipulation. Understanding the syntax and usage of regular expressions can empower you to perform complex operations on textual data efficiently.

So go ahead and explore the world of regex, experiment with different patterns, and unleash its power in your programming endeavors!

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