So far, you have used a limited number of variables in your bash script, you have created few variables to hold one or two filenames and usernames.. Copying associative arrays is not directly possible in bash. There is another solution which I used to pass variables to functions. The best solution probably is, as already been pointed out, to iterate through the array and copy it step by step. Here is a quick start tutorial for using bash associative arrays. Bash: Associative array initialization and usage Just as in other programming languages, associative arrays in Bash are useful for search, set management, and keying into a list of values. There are the associative arrays and integer-indexed arrays. For the record, in zsh, to turn two arrays into an associative array/hash, you'd do: typeset -A hash hash=("${(@)array1:^array2}") Where ${array1:^array2} is the array zipping operator and the @ parameter expansion flag is used to preserve empty elements (in double quotes, similar to "$@"). They work quite similar as in python (and other languages, of course with fewer features :)). Arrays to the rescue! Dictionary / associative arrays / hash map are very useful data structures and they can be created in bash. You could use the same technique for copying associative arrays: Bash, however, includes the ability to create associative arrays, and it treats these arrays the same as any other array. Hashes in Bash. To access the keys of an associative array in bash you need to use an exclamation point right before the name of the array: ${!ARRAY[@]}. There are at least 2 ways to get the keys from an associative array of Bash. Declare and initialize associative array. Indexed arrays are accessed the same way as “Hashes”. A common use is for counting occurrences of some strings. Bash & ksh: echo ${#MYARRAY[@]} Test if a key exist. The values of an associative array are accessed using the following syntax ${ARRAY[@]}. An associative array is an array which uses strings as indices instead of integers. To iterate over the key/value pairs you can do something like the following example # For every… Let’s start with an example associative array: $ declare -A aa $ aa["foo"]=bar $ aa["a b"]=c. In Bash, there are two types of arrays. We will go over a few examples. dictionaries were added in bash version 4.0 and above. See below for accessing the different properties of an array. However, I find that things like: Bash & ksh: if [[ -v "MYARRAY[key5]" ]] ; then # code if key exist else # code if key does not exist fi Test if the value for a key is an empty string. Elements in arrays are frequently referred to by their index number, which is the position in which they reside in the array. You can assign values to arbitrary keys: $ Bash associative arrays are supported in bash version 4. These index numbers are always integer numbers which start at 0. Before use associative array needs to be declared as shown below: declare -A hash hash=(["k1"]="v1" ["k2"]="v2") The label may be different, but whether called “map”, “dictionary”, or “associative array… To check the version of bash run following: A few Bourne-like shells support associative arrays: ksh93 (since 1993), zsh (since 1998), bash (since 2009), though with some differences in behaviour between the 3. Arrays in Bash. But what if you need more than few variables in your bash scripts; let’s say you want to create a bash script that reads a hundred different input from a user, are you going to create 100 variables? Get the length of an associative array. 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