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I would like to define an expression for find which includes a wildcard in a -name subexpression:

find_expression="-type f -name *.csv -mtime +14"

And then use it in a couple of places later on:

find /var/data $find_expression -delete -print

If i don't quote the use of $find_expression, then when the variable is expanded, the glob is resolved, and if there happens to be a CSV file in the current directory, that find command is going to do the wrong thing.

If i do quote the use of $find_expression, then when the variable expanded, it is not split into multiple arguments to find, and the find command does the wrong thing.

This doesn't help:

find_expression="-type f -name '*.csv' -mtime +14"

I believe because it results in a fourth argument which actually starts and ends with single quote characters.

I could surround the invocation of find with a set -f / set +f pair. However, that means i couldn't then use a glob for the paths given to the find expression, so it's not a general solution.

Perhaps i could use an array here.

But is there any way to specifically expand a string into arguments without resolving globs?

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Use an array and quote it:

expression=('-type' 'f' '-name' '*.csv' '-mtime' '+14')
find /var/data "${expression[@]}" -delete -print

Each element will expand separately but without performing word splitting/globbing.

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  • yep, sorry... :)
    – ilkkachu
    Mar 8 at 19:27

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