Bash Reference Manual. Node: Word Designators

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7.3.2: Word Designators

Word designators are used to select desired words from the event. A `:' separates the event specification from the word designator. It may be omitted if the word designator begins with a `^', `$', `*', `-', or `%'. Words are numbered from the beginning of the line, with the first word being denoted by 0 (zero). Words are inserted into the current line separated by single spaces.

0 (zero)

The 0th word. For many applications, this is the command word.


The nth word.


The first argument; that is, word 1.


The last argument.


The word matched by the most recent `?string?' search.


A range of words; `-y' abbreviates `0-y'.


All of the words, except the 0th. This is a synonym for `1-$'. It is not an error to use `*' if there is just one word in the event; the empty string is returned in that case.


Abbreviates `x-$'


Abbreviates `x-$' like `x*', but omits the last word.

If a word designator is supplied without an event specification, the previous command is used as the event.

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