str="I want to abc replace a word abc in a sentence abc of file abc by giving abc specifying a abc multiple abc range to abc the sed abc command abc."

The above sting str has word "abc" 10 times occured,I want to replace "abc" occured from 2nd-4th time and 6th-8th with word "xyz" using sed command.

after sed command on string str ,str should look as below:

str="I want to abc replace a word xyz in a sentence xyz of file xyz by giving abc specifying a xyz multiple xyz range to xyz the sed abc command abc."
  • Does it have to be sed? – heemayl Feb 2 '15 at 10:34
  • Yes am looking specific to sed,if any other simpler and shorter way is there let me know. – Prashant BJ Feb 2 '15 at 17:19

I'm not sure if it's clever or not but here is my GNU sed solution:

sed 's/abc/nonABC/5;s/abc/nonABC/8g;s/abc/xyz/2g;s/nonABC/abc/g' <<<"$str"


sed '
    s/abc/nonABC/5;   # replace only 5th occurrence of 'abc' word with another word (i, e: 'nonABC') 
    s/abc/nonABC/8g;  # replace 8th to the next occurrences of 'abc' with another word too
    s/abc/xyz/2g;     # replace all occurrences of 'abc' word start from 2th place
    s/nonABC/abc/g    # get back the all changed 'abc' from 'nonABC'
' <<<"$str"           # from 'str' as input

And with awk and of course clever:

awk '{printf ( 2<=NR && NR<=8 && NR!=5 )?$0"xyz":$0RS}' RS='abc' <<<"$str"


  • RS='abc' defines 'abc' as Record Separator
  • if Number of Record was between 2 and 8 2<=NR && NR<=8 but not equal with 5 NR!=5, then print the current record $0 and the replace word xyz, otherwise, print the record and abc itself. you can use $0"abc" in place of $0RS.

If your ranges are like: [(2-4),(8-10),(12-15),(18-20),(26-29) ...] as you mentioned in comment then awk is best command for this job. Only you need is specifying the ranges as multiple condition:

( (2<=NR && NR<=4) || (8<=NR && NR<=10) || (12<=NR && NR<=15) || (18<=NR && NR<=20) || (26<=NR && NR<=29) || (...) )
  • @Kasiya-Both answers seems good,but if the file/string is large and the ranges are more we still need an efficient solution. Solution like just specifying ranges to sed/awk command, ranges like: [(2-4),(8-10),(12-15),(18-20),(26-29) .....] – Prashant BJ Feb 4 '15 at 18:30
  • yes for such cases awk is best. – Prashant BJ Feb 5 '15 at 18:34

Another way with the helping of brace expansion, you can do:

sed '-es/abc/xyz/'{8..6} '-es/abc/xyz/'{4..2} <<<"$str"

Please note that range should be always max first in {max#..min#} even first max ranges should be specify at first.

You can also specify which positions range should replace in {x,y,z} format, where numbers should be x>y>z:

sed '-es/abc/xyz/'{8,6,4,2} <<<"$str"

Note that if you use same number {x,x} it will cause a problem and will replace position x again and again (BTW for this there is s/abc/xyz/X alternative where X is position number).

I learned this with from Stéphane Chazelas's answer on Unix.SE

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