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What do you call the opposite of the root directory in a file path, for instance:


How would you refer to the directory


in a generic way and it is not the PWD does it have a certain name?

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The term root is loosely based on a tree metaphor. As such, I would consider each subdirectory to be a "branch" (and a file to be a "leaf")...though the metaphor rather breaks down in the event of symbolic links! – Graham Wager Dec 27 '12 at 10:13
Thanks @GrahamWager I guess the question is, if you snap a branch off what’s the leaf at the thin end called? – squarebear Dec 27 '12 at 10:20
I'd say they're all just branches until you hit a leaf. I'm not even sure there's an "official" thing to call it, other than just a directory or if active the current directory... – Graham Wager Dec 27 '12 at 10:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The last segment of a path is usually called the tail. The earliest use of the term that I know of was by Bill Joy in An Introduction to the C shell, page USD4:28, where he described the C shell's :t tail operator.

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Thanks this seems the most correct to me, I will see how the votes are later and accept "the winner" as judged by the people. – squarebear Dec 27 '12 at 11:06

I don't think there is a well-known and unambiguous single-word for that.

  • You can call it the local name of the file's directory.

  • You can call it the basename of the directory path.

  • You could argue that a directory is never more than a single element of a path and therefore it is the local directory

  • You could adopt the idea mentioned in Graham's comment and call it a leaf directory

Whatever you do is likely to need some accompanying explanation or example.

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Seems to me that just calling it a "subdirectory" would suffice. – martineau Dec 27 '12 at 13:19

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