I don't want to call the whole Firefox/Chrome/Opera... to find out the meaning of a word with the Google translate, so I decided to write a shell script which uses wget to get the content of translate.google.hu and gets the translation from the downloaded file. But I get stuck at the first step.

E.g. if I want to find out the translation (from eng to hun) of word 'Enthusiast' I would try

$ wget https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast

but wget doesn't download the page that I get if I type


into my browser's address bar. Instead of that I got the following:

solid@skynet:~> wget https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast

[1] 2143

solid@skynet:~> --2016-05-02 08:23:24--  https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu
Resolving translate.google.hu (translate.google.hu)..., 2a00:1450:400d:806::2003
Connecting to translate.google.hu (translate.google.hu)||:443... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 403 Forbidden
2016-05-02 08:23:24 ERROR 403: Forbidden.

And I'm waiting, and waiting and waiting... finally I press ENTER:

[1]+  Exit 8                  wget https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu

Could someone solve my problem?

(I'm using OpenSuse Linux 13.2)

UPDATE According to [Alexander Batischev] I have tried

 $ wget 'https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast'

It solved the problem of running in background, and passed to wget the proper address (instead of creating local variable 'tab') ^.^' But I get the same error until the Forbidden:

$ wget 'https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast'

--2016-05-03 14:57:48--  https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT 
Resolving translate.google.hu (translate.google.hu)...,  2a00:1450:400d:806::2003
Connecting to translate.google.hu
(translate.google.hu)||:443... connected. HTTP request
sent, awaiting response... 403 Forbidden
2016-05-03 14:57:48 ERROR 403: Forbidden.

3 Answers 3


When you run this command:

wget https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast

what really happens is:

  • you run wget with URL of "https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu";
  • ampersand means that wget will run in background;
  • a variable named tab is defined and gets a value wT#en/hu/Enthusiast.

The reason for all this is that shell reserves some characters, ampersand included, for special things. To prevent shell from interpreting ampersand, use quotes:

wget 'https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast'

With that resolved, you're still getting "Forbidden" response.

It's a race between clients who want to bypass the interface and the providers who don't want to let them. Google gets its revenue from ads, and it knows that your script won't display any. Thus, they're taking measures to forbid any access but via browser.

The only people who can tell you precisely why you have been "Forbidden" are Google engineers. That said, the easier of the techniques are well-known.

One of the easiest ones are blocking by "user agent string". This is a string identifying the make and version of the client (your browser or wget). It looks like this:

Wget/1.16.3 (linux-gnu)

The client sends this string with every request. The server can use it to tweak the appearance of the result, or to deny access, like in your case.

wget accepts --user-agent flag where you can specify the user agent string to send. To imitate your own browser, you can type "what is my user agent" into that same Google and copy the string from there :) Then, just pass it to wget like so:

wget --user-agent='Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; WOW64; rv:41.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/41.0' \
  • I was so stupid :-/ Thank you! : ) But, despite using quotes I get forbidden.
    – Tom Solid
    May 3, 2016 at 13:14
  • 1
    I've updated my answer, but @Ho1 beat me to it. May 3, 2016 at 13:54

One aspect of your problem is that you should use quotation mark to avoid having problems with the shell commands like &. But this is not the only problem. Many websites refuse to serve you if you are using a bot or program like wget. So you have to change the user agent.

Go to:


This website shows the usergent of your browser to you. Then run:

wget -U "Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/7B405" 'https://translate.google.hu/?hl=hu&tab=wT#en/hu/Enthusiast' -O Enthusiast.html

A wiser choice is to use Google Chrome. Open Chrome, press F12, go to https://translate.google.com/. Then right click on the first request, that is translate.google.com, and then choose "Copy as cURL". Then you can use the command to request the page (nearly) as If you are using Google Chrome. You can use "-o" in cURL to save it as a file, or you can convert the comamnd to those usable in wget.

Copy as cURL in Chrome

This feature of Chrome is documented here:


Please note that sometimes when you get "Forbidden" message, you have to wait a while, or go to the website using your browser and answer a question like Captcha to be able to continue your request to the website.

And at last, you should check "terms of service" before using it in a particular way. I don't know if you're doing the right thing, so please check it for yourself.


This solution sends selected text to Google translate, gets the result with wget and displays it by creating scripts that can be run with shortcuts. (The script based on Zenity doesn't seen to work because of some bug, I have not mentioned that.)

Install some tools if not already installed:

sudo apt-get install libnotify-bin wget xsel xclip

Script to translate a selection and give result in pop-up desktop notification:

gedit notitrans


#!/usr/bin/env bash
notify-send --icon=info "$(xsel -o)" "$(wget -U "Mozilla/5.0" -qO - "http://translate.googleapis.com/translate_a/single?client=gtx&sl=auto&tl=en&dt=t&q=$(xsel -o | sed "s/[\"'<>]//g")" | sed "s/,,,0]],,.*//g" | awk -F'"' '{print $2, $6}')"

make it executable

chmod +x ~/notitrans

move it as follows:

sudo mv ~/notitrans /usr/local/bin/

Script to display the translation in a desktop notification AND automatically copy the translation to the clipboard:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
text="$(xsel -o)"
translate="$(wget -U "Mozilla/5.0" -qO - "http://translate.googleapis.com/translate_a/single?client=gtx&sl=auto&tl=en&dt=t&q=$(echo $text | sed "s/[\"'<>]//g")" | sed "s/,,,0]],,.*//g" | awk -F'"' '{print $2, $6}')"
echo "$translate" | xclip -selection clipboard
notify-send --icon=info "$text" "$translate"

Make it executable.

enter image description here

The above will translate to English. To change that replace en with others according to the two-letter code.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .