return man page


This manual page is part of the POSIX Programmer's Manual. The Linux implementation of this interface may differ (consult the corresponding Linux manual page for details of Linux behavior), or the interface may not be implemented on Linux.

return — return from a function or dot script


return [n]


The return utility shall cause the shell to stop executing the current function or dot script. If the shell is not currently executing a function or dot script, the results are unspecified.


See the Description.


Not used.

Asynchronous Events



Not used.


The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.

Exit Status

The value of the special parameter '?' shall be set to n, an unsigned decimal integer, or to the exit status of the last command executed if n is not specified. If the value of n is greater than 255, the results are undefined. When return is executed in a trap action, the last command is considered to be the command that executed immediately preceding the trap action.

Consequences of Errors


The following sections are informative.


The behavior of return when not in a function or dot script differs between the System V shell and the KornShell. In the System V shell this is an error, whereas in the KornShell, the effect is the same as exit.

The results of returning a number greater than 255 are undefined because of differing practices in the various historical implementations. Some shells AND out all but the low-order 8 bits; others allow larger values, but not of unlimited size.

See the discussion of appropriate exit status values under exit.

See Also

Section 2.9.5, Function Definition Command, Section 2.14, Special Built-In Utilities, dot


2013 IEEE/The Open Group POSIX Programmer's Manual