I had a very long domain, so I decided to change it to a shorter and more friendly one. But since I have a lot of subdomains (in fact, I have a subdomain wildcard), I wanted to keep the subdomain while changing only the domain part. So, I made the following rule:

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name ~^(\w+)\.olddomain\.com$;

  rewrite ^ $scheme://$1.doma.in$request_uri? permanent;

I have read a lot of other questions where this snippet solved the problem. But with me, Nginx always redirects to .domain.in, without any subdomains. What am I missing? I have tested the regex against regex101 and the examples work fine, Nginx seems unable to redirect it.

1 Answer 1


Since nginx 0.8.25 named captures can be used in server_name. You should use them.

Here, the sub-domain will be stored in a variable called $sub. Then you will be able to reuse it in the rewrite directive :

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name ~^(?<sub>\w+)\.olddomain\.com$;
  rewrite ^ $scheme://$sub.doma.in$request_uri? permanent;

Alternatively, you can keep your actual Regex and use $1 in a return directive :

server {
  listen 80;
  server_name ~^(\w+)\.olddomain\.com$;
  return 301 $scheme://$1.doma.in$request_uri;

Finally, note that the return directive is the best approach for a redirect. You may run into Pitfalls using rewrite for a redirect.

  • Perfect. I used the return approach but still named the regex part, it is much more easy to understand.
    – ranieri
    Mar 23, 2014 at 23:18
  • What if we want to redirect without a subdomain (www) too? like: sub1.ex.to > sub1.new.in and ex.to > www.new.in? Jun 4, 2015 at 10:01
  • 1
    Note that '\w' does not match certain characters which can be in domain names, e.g. '-'. The above regex will therefore redirect test-sub.doma.in to .domai.in!
    – Wolfgang
    Mar 14, 2016 at 17:17
  • use [\w\-\_]+ instead of \w+ for subdomains that have - and _ in them Oct 29, 2016 at 15:06
  • What does ~ in the regex do in the beginning? It doesn't make since that something would appear before ^ in regex.
    – hobbes3
    Aug 27, 2019 at 23:28

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