Does anybody know where the tee command-line utility got it's name, I can't seem to find anything.


tee (pronounced like the letter T) takes its name from the T-splitter used in plumbing, and which allows the flow of liquid to go to two directions at once. This is appropriate since tee allows redirecting the output to stdout and to a file at the same time.

From Wikipedia:

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Example usage of tee: The output of ls -l is redirected to tee which copies them to the file file.txt and to the pager less.

  • Once one knows about the "garden hose" metaphor, the names of commands such as tee and y become fairly self-evident.
    – JdeBP
    Dec 4 '17 at 12:45
  • 1
    @JdeBP, that y looks like cat -. I suppose, as a Unix utility, we would have to call it why by analogy with t/tee and because it's not clear why it's needed. Let's not try to look too hard for a real-world analogy for pee (pipe tee). Dec 4 '17 at 14:20

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