Does Not Match If Bash

Shell Programming

As a web developer, I often encounter situations where I need to compare strings or patterns in shell scripting, particularly in the Bash environment. One specific case that comes up frequently is the usage of the does not match operator. In this article, I will delve into the details of the does not match operator in Bash and provide insights on its usage and behavior.

Understanding the “Does Not Match” Operator

The does not match operator, represented by the !=~ syntax, is used in Bash for pattern matching. It allows us to check if a string does not match a particular pattern or regular expression. This can be incredibly useful in conditional statements and validation scenarios within Bash scripts.

Let’s take a look at a basic example. Suppose we have a string variable myString and we want to check if it does not match the pattern “hello”. We can use the does not match operator as follows:


if [[ $myString !=~ hello ]]; then
    echo "The string does not match the pattern 'hello'"

Patterns and Regular Expressions

It’s important to note that the pattern used with the does not match operator can be a basic string or a more complex regular expression. Regular expressions provide powerful pattern matching capabilities, allowing for more advanced and flexible matching criteria.

For instance, if we want to check if a string does not match any digit, we can use the regular expression pattern [0-9] within the !=~ operator.

Common Pitfalls and Considerations

When working with the does not match operator in Bash, it’s essential to keep a few considerations in mind. Firstly, the syntax is sensitive, and a slight error in the placement of spaces or characters can lead to unexpected behavior or errors.

Another important aspect to be cautious about is the use of quotes around the pattern. Depending on the specific scenario, the pattern may or may not need to be enclosed in quotes to ensure proper evaluation.

Best Practices for Using “Does Not Match” Operator

To ensure effective usage of the does not match operator in Bash, it’s advisable to thoroughly test the conditional statements containing this operator. Verifying the behavior with a variety of input values and patterns can help in identifying and resolving any unexpected outcomes.

Additionally, when employing regular expressions, documenting the pattern and its intended matching criteria can be invaluable for future reference and maintenance of the code.


In conclusion, the does not match operator in Bash provides a convenient way to perform pattern matching and validation based on the absence of a certain pattern. While it offers flexibility and power, it’s essential to approach its usage with careful attention to syntax and considerations specific to the Bash environment. By mastering the does not match operator, developers can enhance the robustness and reliability of their Bash scripts.