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Bash Reference Manual

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3.1.2 Quoting Escape Character  How to remove the special meaning from a single character. Single Quotes  How to inhibit all interpretation of a sequence of characters. Double Quotes  How to suppress most of the interpretation of a sequence of characters. ANSI-C Quoting  How to expand ANSI-C sequences in quoted strings. Locale-Specific Translation  How to translate strings into different languages.

Quoting is used to remove the special meaning of certain characters or words to the shell. Quoting can be used to disable special treatment for special characters, to prevent reserved words from being recognized as such, and to prevent parameter expansion.

Each of the shell metacharacters (see section 2. Definitions) has special meaning to the shell and must be quoted if it is to represent itself. When the command history expansion facilities are being used, the history expansion character, usually `!', must be quoted to prevent history expansion. See section 9.1 Bash History Facilities, for more details concerning history expansion. There are three quoting mechanisms: the escape character, single quotes, and double quotes.

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