Why Git Uses (:) to Delete Remote Branch

It would appear that the colon in git push origin :<branch-to-delete> is used exclusively to delete branches. But such is not the case.

The format for the refspec is*:


This tells Git to push the source branch to the destination branch in remote. So if the source is blank, we get a leading colon. This has the effect of deleting the destination branch. Its like saying “push null pointer to destination”.

*You can learn more about the refspec in its entirety in this Stack Overflow

Written on November 10, 2016 by shahriyarnasir