I have a small script with the following lines

echo mom,dad |awk -F, '{print $1,$2}' | while read VAR1 VAR2
 for i in VAR1 VAR2
   eval X=\$$i
   echo $X



What is this line doing eval X=\$$i?

I understand the rest of the lines, but I don't understand the iterations of this for loop with eval. Can someone shed light on this ? I am using Solaris 5.10 with Korn Shell.

  • 1
    Jeff Schaller has a good explanation of what's going on. It's possible to get this same effect without eval by replacing the eval line with X=${!i} which will assign to X the value of the variable whose name is stored in i – Eric Renouf Sep 15 '15 at 0:09
  • @EricRenouf Thanks.How does X=${!i} work, can you break it down little further ? – ayrton_senna Sep 15 '15 at 2:03
  • ${} is a general syntax for accessing a variable (though it can often be shortened to $varname). You can do many things within the {} to affect the variable access, one of which is if the first character in {} is ! the rest is another variable name (i in this example) then the value in that other variable (i) will be expanded and treated as the name of the variable to access with the ${}, so if i=VAR1 then ${!i} becomes ${VAR1} which is the same as $VAR1 – Eric Renouf Sep 15 '15 at 2:09
  • @EricRenouf Thank you..makes more sense now. – ayrton_senna Sep 15 '15 at 2:14

eval performs an extra level of substitution and processing on the remainder of the line.

In the first iteration of the loop, i is set to "VAR1", and one level of backslash-escaping is reduced, so:

eval X=\$$i



which evaluates to:


(repeat for the next loop, only $i is then VAR2, and $VAR2=dad)

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