Nushell supports the following operators for common math, logic, and string operations:

//floor division
**exponentiation (power)
!=not equal
<less than
<=less than or equal
>greater than
>=greater than or equal
=~regex match / string contains another
!~inverse regex match / string does not contain another
invalue in list
not-invalue not in list
notlogical not
andand two Boolean expressions (short-circuits)
oror two Boolean expressions (short-circuits)
xorexclusive or two boolean expressions
bit-orbitwise or
bit-xorbitwise xor
bit-andbitwise and
bit-shlbitwise shift left
bit-shrbitwise shift right
starts-withstring starts with
ends-withstring ends with
++append lists

Parentheses can be used for grouping to specify evaluation order or for calling commands and using the results in an expression.

Order of Operations

To understand the precedence of operations, you can run the command: help operators | sort-by precedence -r.

Presented in descending order of precedence, the article details the operations as follows:

  • Parentheses (())
  • Exponentiation/Power (**)
  • Multiply (*), Divide (/), Integer/Floor Division (//), and Modulo (mod)
  • Add (+) and Subtract (-)
  • Bit shifting (bit-shl, bit-shr)
  • Comparison operations (==, !=, <, >, <=, >=), membership tests (in, not-in, starts-with, ends-with), regex matching (=~, !~), and list appending (++)
  • Bitwise and (bit-and)
  • Bitwise xor (bit-xor)
  • Bitwise or (bit-or)
  • Logical and (and)
  • Logical xor (xor)
  • Logical or (or)
  • Assignment operations
  • Logical not (not)
> 3 * (1 + 2)


Not all operations make sense for all data types. If you attempt to perform an operation on non-compatible data types, you will be met with an error message that should explain what went wrong:

> "spam" - 1
Error: nu::parser::unsupported_operation (link)

  × Types mismatched for operation.
   ╭─[entry #49:1:1]
 1 "spam" - 1
   · ───┬──
   · ╰── int
   ·   ╰── doesn't support these values.
   ·    ╰── string
  help: Change string or int to be the right types and try again.

The rules might sometimes feel a bit strict, but on the other hand there should be less unexpected side effects.

Regular Expression / string-contains Operators

The =~ and !~ operators provide a convenient way to evaluate regular expressionsopen in new window. You don't need to know regular expressions to use them - they're also an easy way to check whether 1 string contains another.

  • string =~ pattern returns true if string contains a match for pattern, and false otherwise.
  • string !~ pattern returns false if string contains a match for pattern, and true otherwise.

For example:

foobarbaz =~ bar # returns true
foobarbaz !~ bar # returns false
ls | where name =~ ^nu # returns all files whose names start with "nu"

Both operators use the Rust regex crate's is_match() functionopen in new window.

Case Sensitivity

Operators are usually case-sensitive when operating on strings. There are a few ways to do case-insensitive work instead:

  1. In the regular expression operators, specify the (?i) case-insensitive mode modifier:
"FOO" =~ "foo" # returns false
"FOO" =~ "(?i)foo" # returns true
  1. Use the str contains command's --insensitive flag:
"FOO" | str contains --insensitive "foo"
  1. Convert strings to lowercase with str downcase before comparing:
("FOO" | str downcase) == ("Foo" | str downcase)

Spread operator

Nushell has a spread operator (...) for unpacking lists and records. You may be familiar with it if you've used JavaScript before. Some languages use * for their spread/splat operator. It can expand lists or records in places where multiple values or key-value pairs are expected.

There are three places you can use the spread operator:

In list literals

Suppose you have multiple lists you want to concatenate together, but you also want to intersperse some individual values. This can be done with append and prepend, but the spread operator can let you do it more easily.

> let dogs = [Spot, Teddy, Tommy]
> let cats = ["Mr. Humphrey Montgomery", Kitten]
> [
    ...($cats | each { |it| $"($it) \(cat\)" })
    ...[Porky Bessie]
 0 Spot
 1 Teddy
 2 Tommy
 3 Polly
 4 Mr. Humphrey Montgomery (cat) 
 5 Kitten (cat)                  
 6 Porky
 7 Bessie
 8 ...Nemo

The below code is an equivalent version using append:

> $dogs |
    append Polly |
    append ($cats | each { |it| $"($it) \(cat\)" }) |
    append [Porky Bessie] |
    append ...Nemo

Note that each call to append results in the creation of a new list, meaning that in this second example, 3 unnecessary intermediate lists are created. This is not the case with the spread operator, so there may be (very minor) performance benefits to using ... if you're joining lots of large lists together, over and over.

You may have noticed that the last item of the resulting list above is "...Nemo". This is because inside list literals, it can only be used to spread lists, not strings. As such, inside list literals, it can only be used before variables (...$foo), subexpressions (...(foo)), and list literals (...[foo]).

The ... also won't be recognized as the spread operator if there's any whitespace between it and the next expression:

> [ ... [] ]
 0 ...
 1 [list 0 items] 

This is mainly so that ... won't be confused for the spread operator in commands such as mv ... $dir.

In record literals

Let's say you have a record with some configuration information and you want to add more fields to this record:

> let config = { path: /tmp, limit: 5 }

You can make a new record with all the fields of $config and some new additions using the spread operator. You can use the spread multiple records inside a single record literal.

> {
    users: [alice bob],
    ...{ url: example.com },
    ...(sys | get mem)
 path /tmp
 limit 5
 users 0 alice
 1 bob
 url example.com
 total 8.3 GB
 free 2.6 GB
 used 5.7 GB
 available 2.6 GB
 swap total 2.1 GB
 swap free 18.0 MB
 swap used 2.1 GB

Similarly to lists, inside record literals, the spread operator can only be used before variables (...$foo), subexpressions (...(foo)), and record literals (...{foo:bar}). Here too, there needs to be no whitespace between the ... and the next expression for it to be recognized as the spread operator.

In command calls

You can also spread arguments to a command, provided that it either has a rest parameter or is an external command.

Here is an example custom command that has a rest parameter:

> def foo [ --flag req opt? ...args ] { [$flag, $req, $opt, $args] | to nuon }

It has one flag (--flag), one required positional parameter (req), one optional positional parameter (opt?), and rest parameter (args).

If you have a list of arguments to pass to args, you can spread it the same way you'd spread a list inside a list literal. The same rules apply: the spread operator is only recognized before variables, subexpressions, and list literals, and no whitespace is allowed in between.

> foo "bar" "baz" ...[1 2 3] # With ..., the numbers are treated as separate arguments
[false, bar, baz, [1, 2, 3]]
> foo "bar" "baz" [1 2 3] # Without ..., [1 2 3] is treated as a single argument
[false, bar, baz, [[1, 2, 3]]]

A more useful way to use the spread operator is if you have another command with a rest parameter and you want it to forward its arguments to foo:

> def bar [ ...args ] { foo --flag "bar" "baz" ...$args }
> bar 1 2 3
[true, bar, baz, [1, 2, 3]]

You can spread multiple lists in a single call, and also intersperse individual arguments:

> foo "bar" "baz" 1 ...[2 3] 4 5 ...(6..9 | take 2) last
[false, bar, baz, [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, last]]

Flags/named arguments can go after a spread argument, just like they can go after regular rest arguments:

> foo "bar" "baz" 1 ...[2 3] --flag 4
[true, bar, baz, [1, 2, 3, 4]]

If a spread argument comes before an optional positional parameter, that optional parameter is treated as being omitted:

> foo "bar" ...[1 2] "not opt" # The null means no argument was given for opt
[false, bar, null, [1, 2, "not opt"]]
Contributors: Justin Ma, JT, Hofer-Julian, Maxim Uvarov, Reilly Wood, 1submarine, Anselm Schüler, Darren Schroeder, JT, Jakub Žádník, R. Mark Volkmann, Stefan Holderbach, Yash Thakur