I wrote a line like this diff fileA.txt fileB.txt | grep -v "^[11,12d9]" . Without the grep part, the output would look like this:

< loop  
< polo  
< pool  

But with grep, the output would look like this:

< loop  
< polo  
< pool  

I think that grep -v is kind of like reverse search. But I don't understand the ^[11,12d9] part, what does it do?

  • 2
    What inspired you to write that particular line? What did you actually want to achieve?
    – Kusalananda
    Feb 6, 2021 at 11:26
  • -v is not reverse search (it does not read the file/stream backwards). It is a inverted filter (find those that don't match). Feb 6, 2021 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


grep -v "^[11,12d9]"

yes, as you found out -v is used for invert match and will return lines that do not match the given pattern ^[11,12d9].

and what ^[11,12d9] is doing is that saying match characters in [...] and if they were appeared at the begging of a line (^ is the beginning of the line anchor) then ignore those lines (since of used -v invert match);

so basically lines that started with one of 1, ,, 2, d or9 characters will be ignored (repeated characters also will be ignored within character-class).

but if you would like to ignore the line starting with string 11,12d9, you need grep -v '^11,12d9'.

*Not relevant to the question but to keep notes about use of ], ^ and - characters within character class:

if ^ character: it can be placed anywhere in [] but not the first character; if it was first character, it acts as negation on the characters within that class.
if ] character: it should be the first character.
if - character: it should be the last character.


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