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Unix / Linux Shell: Get Third Field Separated by Forward Slash (/) Delimiter

I'm writing a shell script for automation purpose. The output the path of the current working directory is stored in $PWD or it can be obtained using the pwd command. How do I find out find out 3rd field separated by the forward slash (/) delimiter using $PWD under Unix like operating systems?

You can display selected parts of lines from each FILE or shell variable using any standard Unix command line utility.

cut Command Example

You can use the cut command as follows:

cut -d/ -f4 <<<"${var}"

To get the sample value from a shell variable called $PWD, enter:

cut -d/ -f4 <<<"${PWD}"


value=$(cut -d/ -f4 <<<"${PWD}")
echo "$value"

You can replace the variable name with the file name:

cut -d/ -f4 /path/to/file.name


  1. -d/ : use / for field delimiter.
  2. -f4 : Select only fourth field. Also print any line that contains no delimiter character, unless the -s option is specified.

awk Command Example

awk is a pattern scanning and text processing language. The syntax is as follows:

awk -F/ '{ print $4}' <<<"${var}"


value=$(awk -F/ '{ print $4}' <<<"${PWD}")
echo "$value"

You can replace the variable name with the file name:

awk -F/ '{ print $4}' /path/to/file.txt


  1. -F/ : sets the field separator, FS, to /.

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Mishka April 29, 2012, 4:37 pm

    Well, it’s somewhat blurry why exactly the 3rd component required. If it’s about getting parent directory of the current directory it can be solved as follows:

    $ basename `dirname $PWD`

    Of course there is a lot of ways to do that, but the cut(1) and awk(1) IMHO the most straightforward ones. Thanks!

    In case of need the following prints exactly the “3rd” component in pure shell:

    $ ( IFS=/ ; p="/home/vivek/foo/bar" ; set -- $p ; echo $4 )
    • nixCraft April 29, 2012, 5:50 pm

      Actually, I forgot about the last pure shell based solution. I appreciate your comment.

  • JackR May 5, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Sorry but <<< operator is new to me. What exactly do <<< operator and what is called?

  • frhling December 10, 2012, 12:24 pm

    If in 9th field($9) there is sth like: A/B/C and one needs C. how can we extract C and put it in output?

  • Prakash September 19, 2013, 12:07 pm

    What if I want to add a foldername after every 2nd ‘/’.

    Basically I’ve big list of files and I want to add one folder to the path of every file.

    Help is appreciated !

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