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After enabling my Compose key, I want to find the list of all the key combinations I can use to create special characters. Where is the full list that my system is using when parsing the keys typed after the Compose key?

I know about things like ë(e"), °(oo), and ‽(!?), but there are surely many more. Everything I've found online seems out of date or incomplete. I would expect the full list to be locale-specific too.

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In case you did not know, you can get any Unicode character you want, by pressing Ctrl + Shift + U, followed by a hexadecimal number – Lekensteyn Apr 13 '11 at 19:53
up vote 27 down vote accepted

The full list of key combinations is available on the local filesystem here:


Everything that starts with <Multi_key> is a Compose key combination.

You'll find a lot of multi-number combinations producing stuff like:

  • 34 as ¾
  • (10) as ⑩

And there are some fun (nearly easter egg) things in there too, including:

  • :) as ☺
  • <3 as ♥
  • CCCP as ☭


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mind = blown ; ♥ = <Multi_key> <less> <3> – daithib8 Apr 13 '11 at 20:04
that file doesn't appear to cover all the characters that are available in gucharmap ( character map). Tip: by switching the view to unicode block many types of characters are revealed . Many are available as part of Deja Vu font. – daithib8 Apr 13 '11 at 20:24
Right, it doesn't cover all the unicode characters -- there are full references of that in lots of places. I was just curious about the Compose-key combination list. – Kees Cook Apr 13 '11 at 21:55
That's not the right path necessarily. For me, $LANG == en_AU.UTF-8, and the path doesn't exist. However, I can find the true path using strace -e open xterm |& grep Compose (i.e. at /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose). – Sparhawk Oct 4 '13 at 6:19

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