Metacharacters, Listed by Unix Program

Some metacharacters are valid for one program but not for another. Those that are available to a Unix program are marked by a checkmark () in Table 22-1. Items marked with a P are specified by POSIX; double-check your system’s version. Full descriptions are provided after the table.

Table 22-1. Unix metacharacters

Symbol

ed

ex

vi

sed

awk

grep

egrep

Action

.

Match any character.

*

Match zero or more preceding.

^

Match beginning of line/string.

$

Match end of line/string.

\

Escape following character.

[ ]

Match one from a set.

( \)

Store pattern for later replay.[a]

\n

Replay subpattern in match.

{ }

P

P

Match a range of instances.

\{ \}

Match a range of instances.

\< \>

Match word’s beginning or end.

+

Match one or more preceding.

?

Match zero or one preceding.

|

Separate choices to match.

( )

Group expressions to match.

[a] Stored subpatterns can be replayed during matching. See Table 22-2.

Note that in ed, ex, vi, and sed, you specify both a search pattern (on the left) and a replacement pattern (on the ...

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