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Is there any built-in Linux command that allows to output a string that is n times an input string??

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By "built-in linux command" I assume you mean shell command, and since you don't mention which shell you're using, I assume it's bash. You can check this by typing "echo $SHELL" at the command line and you should get something similar to "/bin/bash" back. If you don't, you should edit your answer to specify what it does show. Cheers :) – Adrian Petrescu Dec 22 '09 at 3:12
I tagged the question with "bash". I thought that would've been enough. – GetFree Dec 22 '09 at 3:27
Related on Stack Overflow: – Palec Nov 16 '14 at 14:33

14 Answers 14

up vote 41 down vote accepted
adrian@Fourier:~$ printf 'HelloWorld\n%.0s' {1..5}
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Could you explain how this works? I understand the printf command since it's the same as the one in C/C++. But I dont understand how the {1..5} is expanded and how that works in conjunction with the "%.0s" part. – GetFree Dec 22 '09 at 3:24
It's a bit of a hack :) Try running "printf 'HelloWorld %d\n' 1 2 3 4 5" and it'll probably click for you. The %.0s flag is meant to do nothing, just be there to pick up arguments. Then, if bash gets more arguments than it has format specifiers, it will simply print out multiple copies, grabbing as many as it needs. So you get the effect. The output of "printf 'HelloWorld %d%d\n' 1 2 3 4 5 6" probably makes it even clearer. Hope this helps! – Adrian Petrescu Dec 22 '09 at 3:44
I see. It's the particular behavior of printf what allows the repetition – GetFree Dec 22 '09 at 3:53
(I should note that, from a purely theoretical standpoint, this is probably the fastest solution since it uses a single shell primitive -- not any external processes. In reality though, let's face it, performance of bash scripts doesn't really matter :) – Adrian Petrescu Dec 22 '09 at 3:53
NB: The expansion of {x..y} is not specific to printf. This is a bash syntax that expands to a sequence of numbers x, x+1, ..., y. For example, try "echo {1..10}". This is in the "Brace Expansion" section of the bash man page (and is called a "sequence expression"). – larsks Dec 22 '09 at 14:25

Here's an old-fashioned way that's pretty portable:

yes "HelloWorld" | head -n 10

This is a more conventional version of Adrian Petrescu's answer using brace expansion:

for i in {1..5}
    echo "HelloWorld"

That's equivalent to:

for i in 1 2 3 4 5

This is a little more concise and dynamic version of pike's answer:

printf -v spaces '%*s' 10 ''; printf '%s\n' ${spaces// /ten}
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How do you get rid of the new lines when using the yes command? – GetFree Dec 22 '09 at 4:16
One way is to pipe it through sed -n 'H;${x;s/\n//gp}' or sed -n ':t;${s/\n//gp};N;bt' another is to do echo $(yes "HelloWorld" | head -n 10) which adds a space between each copy of the string. Yet another way is to pipe it through tr -d '\n' which also eliminates the final newline. – Dennis Williamson Dec 22 '09 at 9:08
It's like Haskell in a bash shell: Hashell? – WChargin Jan 15 '14 at 5:20
The yes solution is pretty neat – piggybox Jun 26 '15 at 20:04

Perhaps another way that is more general and useful for you:

adrian@Fourier:~$ n=5
adrian@Fourier:~$ for (( c=1; c<=n; c++)) ; do echo "HelloWorld" ; done

The bash shell is more powerful than most people think :)

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This gets my vote, as it's entirely shell-internal; no forking required. – esm Dec 23 '09 at 18:08
What forking are you referring to? The original answer requires none. The output of 'type printf' is 'printf is a shell builtin' and therefore runs within the original bash process. – CodeGnome Apr 17 '12 at 20:17

Quite a few good ways already mentioned. Can't forget about good old seq though:

[john@awesome]$for i in `seq 5`; do echo "Hi";done
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This can be parameterized and doesn't require a temp variable, FWIW:

printf "%${N}s" | sed 's/ /blah/g'

Or, if $N is the size of a bash array:

echo ${ARR[@]/*/blah}
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This is the shortest POSIX 7 solution I have seen so far since seq, yes and {1..5} are not POSIX 7. – Ciro Santilli 六四事件 法轮功 包卓轩 Apr 10 '14 at 11:27

repeat n times, just put n-1 , in {}:

$ echo 'helloworld'{,,}
helloworld helloworld helloworld
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Nice, but what if I want to get n from a variable? – GetFree Jun 28 '12 at 7:32
awk 'BEGIN {while (c++<4) printf "Hello"}'


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${line//"="/"ten "}


ten ten ten ten ten ten ten ten ten ten
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Maybe a more verbose example: declare c='-----'; c=${c//${c:0:1}/$c}; echo $c # Prints "-" 25 times. – Stephen Niedzielski Jan 2 '13 at 23:02

You can use a trick. Echoing an empty variable does not print anything. So you can write:

echo word$wojek{1..100}

If $wojek1 $wojek2 ... $wojek100 are non-existing variables you will get your word repeated 100 times without anything else.

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based on what @pike was hinting at

for every character in string echo string

echo ${target//?/$replace}

An example of a heading underlined with = characters

export heading='ABCDEF'; 
export replace='='; 
echo -e "${heading}\n${heading//?/$replace}"

will output


This seems to port between linux and OS X and that makes me happy.


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Not exactly built in to linux, but if you have python installed..

>>>var = "string"

Or in one line, as commenter suggested:

python -c 'print "This is a test.\n" * 10'
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Not really that useful, since it can't be easily integrated into shell scripts, etc. And since there's about a billion ways to do this in the shell itself, I see little reason to bring out the big guns (i.e Python) for it. – Adrian Petrescu Dec 22 '09 at 3:18
I agree with your second point but not the's easy to integrate into a shell script: python -c 'print "This is a test.\n" * 10' – larsks Dec 22 '09 at 14:26
I like the readability of this solution, good reason enough for me. ;) – elias Aug 16 '15 at 20:28

Assuming you want something like Perl's x operator, where you don't automatically get a newline between repetitions:

x() {
  # usage: x string num
  for i in $(seq 1 $2); do printf "%s" "$1"; done
  # print a newline only if the string does not end in a newline
  [[ "$1" == "${1%$'\n'}" ]] && echo ""

x Hi 10  # ==> HiHiHiHiHiHiHiHiHiHi

x $'Hello World!\n' 3

I explicitly used a for loop because you can't write {1..$n} in bash: brace expansion is done before variable substitution.

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Try this one:

echo $(for i in $(seq 1 100); do printf "-"; done)

Will create (a hundred dash):

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watch -n# 'command'

Where # is the number in seconds you want the command to be repeated.

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This doesn't answer the OP's question (how to print a string repeatedly) – elias Aug 16 '15 at 20:26

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