When I do ls -l | grep ^d it lists only directories in the current directory.

What I'd like to know is what does the caret ^ in ^d mean?

  • For related information, look up regular expressions or check out this page on using regular expressions in grep: robelle.com/smugbook/regexpr.html Oct 14, 2010 at 3:51
  • This works, but is suboptimal. Consider ls */ instead, which will work with or without the long listing (ls -l) and without needing grep (and thus is very slightly faster) and is less likely (than ls -l *) to run into an argument list too long issue (since it puts just directories into the command line). Of course, find . -maxdepth 1 -type d is even better, as it doesn't clutter your command line at all.
    – Adam Katz
    Mar 6, 2015 at 1:45

2 Answers 2


Andy's answer is correct, as seen in the man page:


The caret ^ and the dollar sign $ are meta-characters that respectively match the empty string at the beginning and end of a line.

The reason it works is the -l flag to ls makes it use the long-listing format. The first thing shown in each line is the human-readable permissions for the file, and the first character of that is either d for a directory or - for a file


That's a caret, not a carrot. It means "beginning of the line." The grep is matching only lines that start with "d".


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