:not()

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.

Syntax

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.

The ability to list more than one selector is experimental and not yet widely supported.

:not( <complex-selector-list> )

where
<complex-selector-list> = <complex-selector>#

where
<complex-selector> = <compound-selector> [ <combinator>? <compound-selector> ]*

where
<compound-selector> = [ <type-selector>? <subclass-selector>* [ <pseudo-element-selector> <pseudo-class-selector>* ]* ]!
<combinator> = '>' | '+' | '~' | [ '||' ]

where
<type-selector> = <wq-name> | <ns-prefix>? '*'
<subclass-selector> = <id-selector> | <class-selector> | <attribute-selector> | <pseudo-class-selector>
<pseudo-element-selector> = ':' <pseudo-class-selector>
<pseudo-class-selector> = ':' <ident-token> | ':' <function-token> <any-value> ')'

where
<wq-name> = <ns-prefix>? <ident-token>
<ns-prefix> = [ <ident-token> | '*' ]? |
<id-selector> = <hash-token>
<class-selector> = '.' <ident-token>
<attribute-selector> = '[' <wq-name> ']' | '[' <wq-name> <attr-matcher> [ <string-token> | <ident-token> ] <attr-modifier>? ']'

where
<attr-matcher> = [ '~' | | | '^' | '$' | '*' ]? '='
<attr-modifier> = i | s

Description

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

  • The :not pseudo-class may not be nested, which means that :not(:not(...)) is invalid.
  • Since pseudo-elements are not simple selectors, they are not valid arguments to :not(); thus, selectors like :not(p::before) will not work.
  • 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 a higher specificity.
  • :not(.foo) will match anything that isn't .foo, including <html> and <body>.
  • This selector only applies to one element; you cannot use it to exclude all ancestors. For instance, body :not(table) a will still apply to links inside of a table, since <tr> will match with the :not() part of the selector.

Examples

Basic set of :not() examples

HTML

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

CSS

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

/* <p> elements that are not in the 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` */
/* Note that this syntax is not well supported yet. */
body :not(div, .fancy) {
  text-decoration: overline underline;
}

/* Elements inside an <h2> that aren't a <span> with a class of foo. */
/* Complex selectors such as an element with a class are not well supported yet. */
h2 :not(span.foo) {
  color: red;
}

Result

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
Selectors Level 4
The definition of ':not()' in that specification.
Working Draft Extends its argument to allow some non-simple selectors.
Selectors Level 3
The definition of ':not()' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
Negation pseudo-class selector (:not())Chrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 9Opera Full support 9.5Safari Full support 3.2WebView Android Full support 2Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 3.2Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0
Selector list argumentChrome No support NoEdge No support NoFirefox No support NoIE No support NoOpera No support NoSafari Full support 9WebView Android No support NoChrome Android No support NoFirefox Android No support NoOpera Android No support NoSafari iOS Full support 9Samsung Internet Android No support No

Legend

Full support  
Full support
No support  
No support

See also