Internal field separators

<operating system> ($IFS) A predefined environment variable in the Unix Bourne shell whose default value is the three-character string containing space, tab and line feed.

Any string of one or more of these characters separates the command and each of its arguments in a command line.

$IFS also tells the shell's built-in read command where to split an input line when reading into multiple variables. E.g. setting IFS=: would be appropriate for reading a file with ':'-separated fields, such as /etc/passwd.

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