The :not() CSS pseudo-class represents elements that do not match a list of selectors. Since it prevents specific items from being selected, it is known as the negation pseudo-class.

/* Selects any element that is NOT a paragraph */
:not(p) {
  color: blue;

The :not() pseudo-class has a number of quirks, tricks, and unexpected results that you should be aware of before using it.


The :not() pseudo-class requires a comma-separated list of one or more selectors as its argument. The list must not contain another negation selector or a pseudo-element.

:not( <complex-selector-list> )


There are several unusual effects and outcomes when using :not() that you should keep in mind when using it:

  • Useless selectors can be written using this pseudo-class. For example, :not(*) matches any element which is not an element, which is obviously nonsense, so the accompanying rule will never be applied.
  • This pseudo-class can increase the specificity of a rule. For example, #foo:not(#bar) will match the same element as the simpler #foo, but has the higher specificity of two id selectors.
  • The specificity of the :not() pseudo-class is replaced by the specificity of the most specific selector in its comma-separated argument of selectors; providing the same specificity as if it had been written :not(:is(argument)).
  • :not(.foo) will match anything that isn't .foo, including <html> and <body>.
  • This selector will match everything that is "not an X". This may be surprising when used with descendant combinators, since there are multiple paths to select a target element. For instance, body :not(table) a will still apply to links inside a <table>, since <tr>, <tbody>, <th>, <td>, <caption>, etc. can all match the :not(table) part of the selector.
  • You can negate several selectors at the same time. Example: :not(.foo, .bar) is equivalent to :not(.foo):not(.bar).


Basic set of :not() examples


<p>I am a paragraph.</p>
<p class="fancy">I am so very fancy!</p>
<div>I am NOT a paragraph.</div>
  <span class="foo">foo inside h2</span>
  <span class="bar">bar inside h2</span>


.fancy {
  text-shadow: 2px 2px 3px gold;

/* <p> elements that don't have a class `.fancy` */
p:not(.fancy) {
  color: green;

/* Elements that are not <p> elements */
body :not(p) {
  text-decoration: underline;

/* Elements that are not <div> and not <span> elements */
body :not(div):not(span) {
  font-weight: bold;

/* Elements that are not <div>s or `.fancy` */
body :not(div, .fancy) {
  text-decoration: overline underline;

/* Elements inside an <h2> that aren't a <span> with a class of `.foo` */
h2 :not(span.foo) {
  color: red;



Selectors Level 4
# negation

Browser compatibility

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See also