The history behind "grep"'s name

Hamza Tamenaoul on January 07, 2019

grep, a tool that is widely used in the Unix world, a tool that no one could live without. It's one of the first command to which every linux beg... [Read Full]
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Nice, I didn't know that one :-)
In the same vein, I was taught the story about 'dd' in school : the program makes a 'Carbon Copy' of a file. But 'cc' was already taken by the 'C Compiler'.
Not sure about the authenticity of the story, though.


Funny, I always thought it comes from data duplication and I never even checked...


It's the same thing I've heard from a "GOTO 2013" talk. Giving the history of unix naming, it's very likely this is what happened.


Haha, as an absolute beginner, I really appreciate this one. I'm taking the Command Line Crash Course in Learn Python The Hard Way and have a bunch of flash cards with different commands on them, grep included.

Anyway, I think I get the "p" part and "re" ... but, what's the deal with "g"?


g matches all lines ("global")

In general, to see all lines matching the regular expression “re”, use g/re/p.


Nice, need to utilize this tool more!

Just wanted to share this link:
Where GREP came from

It's a video of Brian Kernighan, a close colleague of Ken Thompson, explaining how grep came to be; it's pretty interesting because he mentions that Ken created grep overnight!


That's an interesting fact, thanks for sharing. I've never asked myself what grep could mean, I should start doing it more often when I use my CLI!


Ha! I never bothered to look this up. I feel like I would have understood its purpose much better as a newbie had I been taught this off the bat. 😄


Wow, that's useful, sure is easier to remember the command knowing what it means.


Let's listen to the guy (bwk) who was actually present when it was invented talk about Where GREP Came From.


Ohhhh, so that's how it is. I always thought it was meant to be "grab" but spelt in Ye Old English or something.


As a Windows guy transitioning to Linux, I find this fascinating indeed.


I didn't know that one, I'm just discovering it. Thanks for mentioning it. I'll go check it out.


If anyone wants to know more about this, there's a great video interview on grep's existence from Brian Kernighan (he contributed towards creating Unix):

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