In Linux I'm used to press Ctrl-Backspace to delete the last word but I don't know how to do it in Bash terminal.

In OS X I use Alt-Backspace to do the same thing.

Is there any way of making Bash recognize the Ctrl- or Alt-Backspace key combination to delete last word?

In Linux I use terminator as terminal emulator, in OSX I use iTerm2.

  • 1
    Alt-⌫ a.k.a. Alt-← a.k.a. Alt-Backspace works perfectly fine for me. I'm using Terminator 0.93.
    – Teddy
    Jun 14, 2011 at 9:49

6 Answers 6


You can always use Ctrl-W. It deletes the word before the cursor and works in every Bash.

See here for a list of Bash keyboard shortcuts.

  • 1
    Wow this may have changed how I use the terminal forever. Thanks!
    – David
    Nov 30, 2012 at 13:52
  • 8
    This does not answer the question
    – Sel
    Jan 18, 2017 at 7:56
  • I am using the combination through ssh with tcsh, it clears everything before the cursor, not just one word before cursor.
    – zyy
    May 16, 2020 at 20:39

You just need to set Option as Meta key in iTerm's preferences (Profiles » Keys).

backward-kill-word is bound to Meta-Rubout (i.e. Opt-Backspace) by default.

The same option exists (albeit less flexible) in Apple's Terminal.app.

  • 2
    Actually, you have to use the "+Esc" setting. Only setting it to "acts as: Meta" results in ? being printed instead of the word getting deleted.
    – slhck
    Jun 13, 2011 at 17:32
  • @slhck Not for me. But since the developers recommend it anyway, it can't be a bad thing.
    – Daniel Beck
    Jun 13, 2011 at 17:34

You can create a file .inputrc in your home directory and add this content inside:

"\C-h": backward-kill-word
  • 2
    Note that this and C-w in the accepted answer differ by what is considered a "word". C-w will delete from the cursor position until it encounters non-space characters and then a space (i.e., "this is a/se=weird |test" where | marks the cursor position will yield "this is test"). In contrast, the C-h bind here (which can be bound using bind '"\C-h": backward-kill-word" in a .bashrc) would yield "this is a/se= test", as it basically delimits words on what a bash variable would, not just spaces. Jul 16, 2018 at 19:07

In terminator you can use the following "plugin", along with

    kill_word = <Control>BackSpace

in your config file. This will map Ctrl-Backspace to ESCDEL, another shorcut to delete last word.

  • Unfortunately this stopped working in terminator 1.9. Could you provide a fix by any chance?
    – Sel
    Apr 18, 2017 at 8:38
  • 1
    Sorry, stopped using terminator long time ago... Apr 19, 2017 at 14:14

As some have mentioned, this may also depend on your terminal emulator. For example in KDE's Konsole, you can define the behavior of Ctrl+Backspace in the key bindings settings of the profile:

Set Backspace+Ctrl to the output \E\x7f (default \b)

Konsole Key Binding List


You can just use Alt-DEL instead of the normal Strg-DEL.

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