I'm trying to pipe some data from a Bash pipe into a Bash variable using the read command, like this:

$ echo "Alexander the Grape" | read quot
$ echo $quot

But quot is empty. Some Googling revealed that this is not a bug; it's an intended feature of Bash. (Section E5 in the FAQ.)

But when I tried the same thing in zsh, it worked. (Ditto for ksh.) Is there any way to make this work in Bash? I really don't want to have to type:

$ quot=$(echo "Alexander the Grape")

Especially for long commands.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For additional reading on this subject, see BashFAQ/024.

There are a bunch of ways to do variable assignments in Bash:

read var <<< $(command)
read var <<< EOF
printf -v var "%s" $(command)


  • Thanks. Not what I was looking for, but these are very interesting alternatives. – Karthik Aug 10 '10 at 3:03

I am guessing you are trying to create a command inside a variable and then run it by specifying the variable? Then don't. run the command as it is.

  • Actually, I'm parsing really large numbers (1000+ digits). I wanted to store it into a variable because it got unwieldy after a while. – Karthik Aug 10 '10 at 2:27

Nope. If you prefer the behaviour of a different shell, switch to that shell. Market forces. :)

read quot < <(echo "Alexander the Grape")

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.