They used to be in /usr/lib/X11/XKeysymDB or /usr/share/X11/XKeysymDB, but those have been missing from Ubuntu for a while. I've tried google, but all I get are more references to XKeysymDB or the outputs of different people's xmodmap -pke. Where is the concise list?

2 Answers 2


Probably the best up-to-date values for key symbol definitions is to look at the source-code.

Basically its just a list of keysym names with their associated codes.

sudo apt-get install x11proto-core-dev

Two key keyfiles in /usr/include/X11:

The main definition file:


Vendor specific (i.e. Debian/Ubuntu):


There are a number of other header files in the same folder you can also examine:

$ grep -l '#define.*XK_' /usr/include/X11/*.h

Example definition from /usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h:

#define XK_BackSpace                     0xff08  /* Back space, back char */
#define XK_Tab                           0xff09
#define XK_Linefeed                      0xff0a  /* Linefeed, LF */
#define XK_Clear                         0xff0b
#define XK_Return                        0xff0d  /* Return, enter */
#define XK_Pause                         0xff13  /* Pause, hold */
#define XK_Scroll_Lock                   0xff14
#define XK_Sys_Req                       0xff15
#define XK_Escape                        0xff1b
#define XK_Delete                        0xffff  /* Delete, rubout */
  • 1
    Cheers, but I can't see XF86Bluetooth or XF86WLAN etc, so is there another header too?
    – Dave E
    Jan 8, 2012 at 11:46
  • 2
    ... updated - bluetooth/wlan is in XF86...
    – fossfreedom
    Jan 8, 2012 at 12:04
  • Bingo! Thanks. Oops though, I didn't mean to vote that as a 'great comment'.
    – Dave E
    Jan 8, 2012 at 12:20
  • 3
    For occasional Googlers: equivalent package for Fedora/Red Hat is called xorg-x11-proto-devel May 12, 2014 at 12:15
  • Update: these days, the interesting files in Fedora now live in libxkbcommon-devel
    – BRPocock
    Oct 27, 2016 at 17:05

Note that if you want to learn the code for a specific key on your keyboard, you can use xev. After starting xev, you can press the key and see the X events printed to the terminal.

You can use xev | grep keysym to filter the lines for the essential information, you need the second argument in parenthesis.

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