basename - Linux


The basename command in Linux is used to strip directory and suffix from filenames. It is typically used to extract the file name from a path, removing any leading directory components and optionally the suffix of the file. This command is especially useful in scripting and programming where file paths need to be handled, manipulated, or displayed.


The basic syntax of the basename command is as follows:

  • NAME: This is the full pathname from which you want to strip the directory portion.
  • SUFFIX: This is an optional argument. When specified, basename will also remove the suffix from the filename.


basename includes a few options that modify its behavior:

  • -a, --multiple: Treat every argument as a NAME input. This is useful when you need to strip the path from multiple files in a single command.
  • -s, --suffix=SUFFIX: Removes a trailing SUFFIX from name components. If this option is used, the SUFFIX part of the syntax shown above should not be used.
  • -z, --zero: End each output line with a zero byte rather than a newline, useful for handling filenames with special characters or spaces.


  1. Basic Example:

    basename /usr/local/bin/


  2. Removing Suffix:

    basename /usr/local/bin/ .sh

    Output: script

  3. Using Multiple Names:

    basename -a /path/to/file1.txt /path/to/file2.log


  4. Combining Zero Byte with Multiple Names:

    basename -z -a /file1.txt /file2.log

    Output (zero byte terminated): file1.txt\0file2.log\0

Common Issues

  • Incorrect Path Handling: If the path is incorrectly structured or does not exist, basename only strips what it interprets as directories, which might lead to incorrect outputs.

  • Misinterpretation of Suffix: In cases where the suffix does not actually match the end of the filename, basename does not remove it, potentially leading to confusion.

To avoid these issues, always verify your input paths and ensure that the suffix specified should accurately match the end of the filenames being processed.


basename is commonly combined with other commands in shell scripts. Here is an example of using basename in a script to process all .jpg files in a directory:

for file in /path/to/images/*.jpg; do
    echo Processing `basename $file`
    # Further commands to process the image
  • dirname: Extracts the directory path from a given pathname and is often used in conjunction with basename.
  • find: Used for finding files across directories, often piped into basename to handle file paths dynamically.
  • xargs: Useful for building command lines from standard input, works well with basename to process multiple files.

For further details consult the official Linux man pages (man basename). This provides more in-depth information and additional examples.