I have to create the function in shell script, that function name must contain the special characters. like

       echo $1 $2

Here my function name is >, If its possible how can I give, Like above I tried that But it will through the error

  • 3
    This is probably an XY problem. Why do you need a function called >?
    – jofel
    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:20
  • @jofel I need to add the function in bashrc file, when redirection symbol is occur on my terminal window I need to call that function.
    – Bhuvanesh
    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:24
  • We are getting closer. Can you elaborate more? Do you need this for debugging? bash accepts only one argument after > so why do you use $1 and $2? The answer to your actually question is probably actually no, but it is not yet clear what you really want to achieve.
    – jofel
    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:31
  • Please edit your question and explain what your final objective is. What exactly do you want to achieve with this function? Calling a function > is not a solution, if you explain what you are trying to do, we might be able to help you find another way.
    – terdon
    Mar 25, 2015 at 12:52

2 Answers 2


Most shells restrict the name of functions to contain only characters that don't need to be quoted, which excludes >.

Even in the few shells that allow > as a function name (I only know of zsh), defining a function called > would only have an effect if you called > as a command (which would require quoting it, i.e. running \> or ">" or '>'). It would not change how redirection works.

None of the usual shells have a way to configure what happens if some subsequent part of the script performs a redirection. If you need that kind of things, a shell is not nearly a flexible enough language. But there's probably a better way to solve whatever problem you're trying to solve — and quite possibly one that can be solved in a shell script.


The > has a special meaning in the shell, it's a redirection operator, see the manpage:

[n]> file Redirect standard output (or n) to file.

The name of a function can contain only letters (a-z or A-Z), digit (0-9) or the underscore character (_). Also is must not begin with a digit. (see Function Definition Command and Name)

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