unset 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.

unset — unset values and attributes of variables and functions


unset [-fv] name...


Each variable or function specified by name shall be unset.

If -v is specified, name refers to a variable name and the shell shall unset it and remove it from the environment. Read-only variables cannot be unset.

If -f is specified, name refers to a function and the shell shall unset the function definition.

If neither -f nor -v is specified, name refers to a variable; if a variable by that name does not exist, it is unspecified whether a function by that name, if any, shall be unset.

Unsetting a variable or function that was not previously set shall not be considered an error and does not cause the shell to abort.

The unset special built-in shall support the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines.

Note that:


is not equivalent to an unset of VARIABLE; in the example, VARIABLE is set to "". Also, the variables that can be unset should not be misinterpreted to include the special parameters (see Section 2.5.2, Special Parameters).


See the Description.


See the Description.


Not used.

Asynchronous Events



Not used.


The standard error shall be used only for diagnostic messages.

Exit Status

All name operands were successfully unset.
At least one name could not be unset.

Consequences of Errors


The following sections are informative.


Unset VISUAL variable:

unset -v VISUAL

Unset the functions foo and bar:

unset -f foo bar


Consideration was given to omitting the -f option in favor of an unfunction utility, but the standard developers decided to retain historical practice.

The -v option was introduced because System V historically used one name space for both variables and functions. When unset is used without options, System V historically unset either a function or a variable, and there was no confusion about which one was intended. A portable POSIX application can use unset without an option to unset a variable, but not a function; the -f option must be used.

See Also

Section 2.14, Special Built-In Utilities

The Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2, Utility Syntax Guidelines