WC(1) BSD Reference Manual WC(1)
wc - word, line, and byte count
wc [-clw] [file ...]
The wc utility displays the number of lines, words, and bytes contained
in each input file (or standard input, by default) to the standard out-
put. A line is defined as a string of characters delimited by a <new-
line> character, and a word is defined as a string of characters delimit-
ed by white space characters. White space characters are the set of
characters for which the isspace(3) function returns true. If more than
one input file is specified, a line of cumulative counts for all the
files is displayed on a separate line after the output for the last file.
The following options are available:
-c The number of bytes in each input file is written to the standard
-l The number of lines in each input file is written to the standard
-w The number of words in each input file is written to the standard
When an option is specified, wc only reports the information requested by
that option. The default action is equivalent to specifying all of the
If no files are specified, the standard input is used and no file name is
The wc utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
Historically, the wc utility was documented to define a word as a ``maxi-
mal string of characters delimited by <space>, <tab> or <newline> charac-
ters''. The implementation, however, didn't handle non-printing charac-
ters correctly so that `` ^D^E '' counted as 6 spaces, while
``foo^D^Ebar'' counted as 8 characters. 4BSD systems after 4.3BSD modi-
fied the implementation to be consistent with the documentation. This
implementation defines a ``word'' in terms of the isspace(3) function, as
required by IEEE Std1003.2 (``POSIX'').
The wc function conforms to IEEE Std1003.2 (``POSIX'').
4.4BSD April 19, 1994 1