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Bash Reference Manual

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9.3.2 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.

For example,

!!
designates the preceding command. When you type this, the preceding command is repeated in toto.

!!:$
designates the last argument of the preceding command. This may be shortened to !$.

!fi:2
designates the second argument of the most recent command starting with the letters fi.

Here are the word designators:

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

n
The nth word.

^
The first argument; that is, word 1.

$
The last argument.

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

x-y
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.

x*
Abbreviates `x-$'

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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