18.1 basename: Strip directory and suffix from a file name

basename removes any leading directory components from name. Synopsis:

basename name [suffix]
basename option… name…

If suffix is specified and is identical to the end of name, it is removed from name as well. Note that since trailing slashes are removed prior to suffix matching, suffix will do nothing if it contains slashes. basename prints the result on standard output.

Together, basename and dirname are designed such that if ‘ls "$name"’ succeeds, then the command sequence ‘cd "$(dirname "$name")"; ls "$(basename "$name")"’ will, too. This works for everything except file names containing a trailing newline.

POSIX allows the implementation to define the results if name is empty or ‘//’. In the former case, GNU basename returns the empty string. In the latter case, the result is ‘//’ on platforms where // is distinct from /, and ‘/’ on platforms where there is no difference.

The program accepts the following options. Also see Common options. Options must precede operands.


Support more than one argument. Treat every argument as a name. With this, an optional suffix must be specified using the -s option.

-s suffix

Remove a trailing suffix. This option implies the -a option.


Output a zero byte (ASCII NUL) at the end of each line, rather than a newline. This option enables other programs to parse the output even when that output would contain data with embedded newlines.

An exit status of zero indicates success, and a nonzero value indicates failure.


# Output "sort".
basename /usr/bin/sort

# Output "stdio".
basename include/stdio.h .h

# Output "stdio".
basename -s .h include/stdio.h

# Output "stdio" followed by "stdlib"
basename -a -s .h include/stdio.h include/stdlib.h