date - print or set the system date and time


date [OPTION]... [+FORMAT]
date [-u|--utc|--universal] [MMDDhhmm[[CC]YY][.ss]]


Display the current time in the given FORMAT, or set the system date.

-d, --date=STRING
display time described by STRING, not `now'
-f, --file=DATEFILE
like --date once for each line of DATEFILE
-r, --reference=FILE
display the last modification time of FILE
-R, --rfc-2822
output date and time in RFC 2822 format. Example: Mon, 07 Aug 2006 12:34:56 -0600
output date and time in RFC 3339 format. TIMESPEC=`date', `seconds', or `ns' for date and time to the indicated precision. Date and time components are separated by a single space: 2006-08-07 12:34:56-06:00
-s, --set=STRING
set time described by STRING
-u, --utc, --universal
print or set Coordinated Universal Time
display this help and exit
output version information and exit

FORMAT controls the output. Interpreted sequences are:

a literal %
locale's abbreviated weekday name (e.g., Sun)
locale's full weekday name (e.g., Sunday)
locale's abbreviated month name (e.g., Jan)
locale's full month name (e.g., January)
locale's date and time (e.g., Thu Mar 3 23:05:25 2005)
century; like %Y, except omit last two digits (e.g., 20)
day of month (e.g, 01)
date; same as %m/%d/%y
day of month, space padded; same as %_d
full date; same as %Y-%m-%d
last two digits of year of ISO week number (see %G)
year of ISO week number (see %V); normally useful only with %V
same as %b
hour (00..23)
hour (01..12)
day of year (001..366)
hour ( 0..23)
hour ( 1..12)
month (01..12)
minute (00..59)
a newline
nanoseconds (000000000..999999999)
locale's equivalent of either AM or PM; blank if not known
like %p, but lower case
locale's 12-hour clock time (e.g., 11:11:04 PM)
24-hour hour and minute; same as %H:%M
seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC
second (00..60)
a tab
time; same as %H:%M:%S
day of week (1..7); 1 is Monday
week number of year, with Sunday as first day of week (00..53)
ISO week number, with Monday as first day of week (01..53)
day of week (0..6); 0 is Sunday
week number of year, with Monday as first day of week (00..53)
locale's date representation (e.g., 12/31/99)
locale's time representation (e.g., 23:13:48)
last two digits of year (00..99)
+hhmm numeric timezone (e.g., -0400)
+hh:mm numeric timezone (e.g., -04:00)
+hh:mm:ss numeric time zone (e.g., -04:00:00)
numeric time zone with : to necessary precision (e.g., -04, +05:30)
alphabetic time zone abbreviation (e.g., EDT)

By default, date pads numeric fields with zeroes. The following optional flags may follow `%':

(hyphen) do not pad the field
(underscore) pad with spaces
(zero) pad with zeros
use upper case if possible
use opposite case if possible

After any flags comes an optional field width, as a decimal number; then an optional modifier, which is either E to use the locale's alternate representations if available, or O to use the locale's alternate numeric symbols if available.


The --date=STRING is a mostly free format human readable date string such as "Sun, 29 Feb 2004 16:21:42 -0800" or "2004-02-29 16:21:42" or even "next Thursday". A date string may contain items indicating calendar date, time of day, time zone, day of week, relative time, relative date, and numbers. An empty string indicates the beginning of the day. The date string format is more complex than is easily documented here but is fully described in the info documentation.


Specifies the timezone, unless overridden by command line parameters. If neither is specified, the setting from /etc/localtime is used.


Written by David MacKenzie.


Report date bugs to
GNU coreutils home page: <>
General help using GNU software: <>
Report date translation bugs to <> Copyright © 2010 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.


The full documentation for date is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and date programs are properly installed at your site, the command
info coreutils aqdate invocationaq

should give you access to the complete manual.