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Chapter 22. Pattern Matching > Metacharacters, Listed by Unix Program

22.2. 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.[1]
\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.


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


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