What Is Z in Shell Scripting?


Heather Bennett

Shell scripting is a powerful tool used by programmers and system administrators to automate tasks in the Unix/Linux environment. One important concept in shell scripting is the use of variables. Variables allow us to store and manipulate data, making our scripts more dynamic and efficient.

What Is Z in Shell Scripting?

In shell scripting, the letter “Z” is often used as a variable name. It holds a special meaning and is commonly used to represent the last argument passed to a script or a function.

When writing shell scripts, you may come across situations where you need to access the last argument passed to your script. This could be useful when you want to perform specific actions based on that argument or need to process it further.

The “Z” variable simplifies this task by automatically storing the last argument for you. By referencing this variable in your script, you can easily access and use the value of the last argument without explicitly passing it as a separate parameter.

Example Usage:

To illustrate how the “Z” variable works, consider the following example:


# Get and display the last argument
echo "Last argument: $last_arg"
  • Line 1: Specifies that this script will be executed using the bash shell.
  • Line 4: Assigns the value of $Z (the last argument) to the variable “last_arg”.
  • Line 5: Outputs the value of “last_arg” using echo.

If we run this script with some arguments, like:

$ ./script.sh arg1 arg2 arg3

The output will be:

Last argument: arg3

As you can see, the “Z” variable stores the last argument passed to the script (in this case, “arg3”) and allows us to use it within our script.

Important Considerations:

It’s important to note that the “Z” variable is not a standard shell variable and may not be available in all shell environments. It is commonly supported in bash and other popular shells, but it’s always a good practice to test your scripts on different systems or check the documentation of your specific shell to ensure compatibility.

Using meaningful variable names in your scripts is generally recommended for better code readability and maintainability. While using “Z” as a generic name for the last argument can be convenient, consider choosing more descriptive names if possible.


The “Z” variable in shell scripting provides an easy way to access the last argument passed to a script or function. By using this special variable, you can simplify your code and avoid manually parsing command-line arguments. Just remember to check for compatibility with your specific shell environment before relying on its availability.

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