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shell – How do I grep for multiple patterns with pattern having a pipe character? – Unix & Linux Stack Exchange

Posted by jpluimers on 2020/10/27

Since I keep forgetting this – especially because I cannot remember the “why”: [WayBack] shell – How do I grep for multiple patterns with pattern having a pipe character? – Unix & Linux Stack Exchange by “user unknown“.

The -E means using Regular expression: POSIX extended – Wikipedia.

egrep "foo|bar" *.txt

or

grep "foo\|bar" *.txt
grep -E "foo|bar" *.txt

selectively citing the man page of gnu-grep:

   -E, --extended-regexp
          Interpret PATTERN as an extended regular expression (ERE, see below).  (-E is specified by POSIX.)

Matching Control
   -e PATTERN, --regexp=PATTERN
          Use PATTERN as the pattern.  This can be used to specify multiple search patterns, or to protect  a  pattern
          beginning with a hyphen (-).  (-e is specified by POSIX.)

(…)

   grep understands two different versions of regular expression syntax: basic and extended.”  In  GNU grep,  there
   is  no  difference  in  available  functionality  using  either  syntax.   In  other implementations, basic regular
   expressions are less powerful.  The following description applies to extended regular expressions; differences  for
   basic regular expressions are summarized afterwards.

In the beginning I didn’t read further, so I didn’t recognize the subtle differences:

Basic vs Extended Regular Expressions
   In basic regular expressions the meta-characters ?, +, {, |, (, and ) lose their special meaning; instead  use  the
   backslashed versions \?, \+, \{, \|, \(, and \).

I always used egrep and needlessly parens, because I learned from examples. Now I learned something new. :)

–jeroen

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