The simple code here is working as expected on my machine if launched with bash :

function ⏰(){

Could there be a problem for other people using this, or is it universal ?

I'm wondering because I've never seen anything like this in other source code for now.

Edit : There are unlimited possibilities, it can be used to quickly distinguish a function role with the usage of an emoji for example.

A πŸ’£ for something that can modify or remove files, a πŸ”§ if it's a work in progress, πŸ“ƒ for an interactive menu...

I guess we should create a standard for all of that, but it seems to be an interesting idea.
Maybe a random line of ~5 characters can help us a lot understanding what the code is doing. (Of course we need to learn how to read them.)

More edit : I'm giving it a shot. For now, if i fold all my functions in my editor (Or cat myscript.sh|grep function) they look like this. (My unicode looks much better in geany or my terminal compared to here.)

function ⬚_1(){
function ⬚⬚_2(){
function ⬚⬚⬚_πŸ“ƒ_D(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚_πŸ“ƒ_X(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚⬚_πŸ“ƒ_Y(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚⬚⬚_❓_P(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚_πŸ“ƒ_Z(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚⬚_❓_U(){
function ⬚⬚⬚⬚⬚_❓_O(){

I use a strange indentation ⬚ to show how the functions are related to each other and a symbol πŸ“ƒ/❓ to clearly distinguish their role. (Of course these are not my real function names, I just put a random letter at the end, but even without them we can clearly see the relationships.)

  • 8
    I'd say it unsafe for retrocompatible reason, if you have to use your script on old server this could not work as bash emoji support is recent. but it's probably OK on recent Linux.
    – Kiwy
    Nov 27, 2018 at 10:58
  • 18
    @Ipor no, it stands for Unicode (and the β€œUni” in Unicode stands for universal). Nov 27, 2018 at 10:59
  • 5
    How "universal" do you want universal to be? Works on Cygwin, with the usual UTF-8 vs. UTF-16 problems? On modern IBM z/OS system services, which still have to deal with the EBCDIC charset? On historical Unix computers which don't use 8-bit bytes as smallest unit? The POSIX restriction is there for a reason...
    – dirkt
    Nov 27, 2018 at 12:11
  • 6
    The names of functions must be made up of characters from the portable character set, according to POSIX. If "universal" means "any shell", then it would not be universal in this sense.
    – Kusalananda
    Nov 27, 2018 at 12:18
  • 6
    If you find yourself asking whether it is safe to do <whatever> in a shell script, the answer is most probably no. Heck, not even doing echo $foo is safe. Nov 27, 2018 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


A useful guideline for this is the "Portable Operating System Interface" (POSIX), a family of standards that is implemented by most Unix-like systems. It is usually a good idea to limit shell scripts to features mandated by POSIX to make sure they will be usable across different shells and platforms.

According to the POSIX specification of function definitions in the "Shell Command Language":

The function is named fname; the application shall ensure that it is a name (see the Base Definitions volume of IEEE Std 1003.1-2001, Section 3.230, Name). An implementation may allow other characters in a function name as an extension.

Following the link to the definition of a "name":

In the shell command language, a word consisting solely of underscores, digits, and alphabetics from the portable character set.

That character set contains only characters between U0000 and U007E.
Therefore characters like "⏰" (U23F0) are not valid in a POSIX-compliant identifier.

Your shell might accept them, but that doesn't guarantee that others will as well.
To be able to use your script across different platforms and software versions, you should avoid using non-compliant identifiers like this.

  • 19
    Good rule of thumb... if your standard keyboard doesn't have a key for it... don't use it.
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 27, 2018 at 19:44
  • 6
    @SnakeDoc youtube.com/watch?v=3AtBE9BOvvk "standard" emoji keyboard ;)
    – Jorn
    Nov 27, 2018 at 22:42
  • 9
    @Jorn Maybe I should have said "if you can't buy the keyboard from a normal retail store"... lol
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 27, 2018 at 22:49
  • 4
    @SnakeDoc It's a good start - but the keyboard I am typing this on has a key for £, €, and ¬ all of which are outside the portable character set. More seriously, some colleagues have keyboards with ä, ö, ü, è, é, and ß on them. They are all letters but are not good for portable function names. Nov 28, 2018 at 9:27
  • 2
    POSIX-compliant but not POSIX-limited ?
    – bob dylan
    Nov 28, 2018 at 11:18

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