The following works when pasted directly into my bash terminal (I call bash explicitly, bash version: 4.4.19(1)-release (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu))

for filename in /home/dean/Downloads/!(*example).txt; do
    echo "${filename}"

This command echoes back all of the txt files that do not have 'example' in the filename.

But when I convert this into a script called temp.sh, chmod +x temp.sh and call it by ./temp.sh:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

for filename in /home/dean/Downloads/!(*example).txt; do
    echo "${filename}"

I get the following error:

dean@dean-thinkpad-p52s:~/Downloads$ ./temp.sh 
./temp.sh: line 3: syntax error near unexpected token `('
./temp.sh: line 3: `for filename in /home/dean/Downloads/!(*example).txt; do'

I fail to understand the problem here. Why is it doing exactly what I want in the shell but not in the script.

Edit (to answer panki's question):

The difference between when env is called in shell/terminal and when env is called in shell/script:

dean@dean-thinkpad-p52s:~/Downloads$ diff example_myshell.txt example_called_script.txt 
> _=/usr/bin/env
< TERM=xterm-256color
< SHELL=/bin/bash
> SHELL=/bin/bash
> TERM=xterm-256color
< _=/usr/bin/env

  • Does it work if you source the script? Is the bash returned by env the same as your shell?
    – Panki
    May 27, 2019 at 9:56
  • Sourcing the script works, but I need it to work when calling the script. I don't know if I follow your second question but I have included the difference of when env is called in script and when it is called in shell.
    – dnk8n
    May 27, 2019 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


The !(...) Korn shell extended operator is only available in bash when you turn the extglob option on (it is off by default).

You may have extglob turned on in your interactive shell via ~/.bashrc or other initialization file, but notice that those files are not sourced when running scripts, and that option is not inherited from the calling shell (unless the BASHOPTS variable in the environment, but it would be a bad idea to have it there).

Explicitly turning it on with

shopt -s extglob

at the beginning of your script should work.

Notice that the shopt -s extglob only has effect beginning with the next line which wasn't already parsed. This means that you cannot use shopt -s extglob like set -f, to only turn the extended patterns on in a subshell:

# this won't work
  shopt -s extglob
  echo !(no such file)

You'd have to do something like:

  shopt -s extglob
  eval 'echo !(no such file)'
  • 1
    @DeanKayton, the (confusingly named) shopt command and the extglob option are "standard" in bash, not in sh. If you want a sh equivalent, you can always do for f in /path/to/*.txt; do case ${f##*/} in (*example.txt) continue; esac; ...; done May 27, 2019 at 10:16
  • I made the mistake of putting shopt -s extglob command immediately before the !(...) Korn shell extended operator was needed. This did not work at all, the command works when it is on the first line of the script. Can you comment as to why that is the case?
    – dnk8n
    May 28, 2019 at 8:40
  • 2
    That's a bug in bash. shopt -s extglob only has effect beginning with the next line. There's really nothing you can do about it, than putting them on separate lines.
    – user313992
    May 28, 2019 at 8:52
  • Notice that the extglob patterns in bash are not really like those from ksh93; you cannot write something like touch bar baar baaar baaaar; echo b{2,3}(a)r to do regex-like quantifiers.
    – user313992
    May 28, 2019 at 9:19
  • 2
    Yeah, you cannot turn it on in a function, because a function gets parsed as a single unit, just like the (...) subshell from my example. (And btw, the shopt options, unlike the set options, cannot be made local to the function with local -, anyways). Another similar quirk/bug is with the failglob option -- a failed glob will zap the whole line/parsing unit, not just the command it's used in, and not even an eval will help with it ;-) (shopt -s failglob; eval 'echo hehe*'; echo DONE)
    – user313992
    May 29, 2019 at 21:02

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