cowsay/cowthink - configurable speaking/thinking cow (and a bit more)
cowsay [-e eye_string
] [-f cowfile
] [-T tongue_string
generates an ASCII picture of a cow saying something provided by
the user. If run with no arguments, it accepts standard input, word-wraps the
message given at about 40 columns, and prints the cow saying the given message
on standard output.
To aid in the use of arbitrary messages with arbitrary whitespace, use the
option. If it is specified, the given message will not be
word-wrapped. This is possibly useful if you want to make the cow think or
speak in figlet(6). If -n
is specified, there must not be any
command-line arguments left after all the switches have been processed.
specifies roughly where the message should be wrapped. The default
is equivalent to -W 40
i.e. wrap words at or before the 40th column.
If any command-line arguments are left over after all switches have been
processed, they become the cow's message. The program will not accept standard
input for a message in this case.
There are several provided modes which change the appearance of the cow
depending on its particular emotional/physical state. The -b
initiates Borg mode; -d
causes the cow to appear dead; -g
invokes greedy mode; -p
causes a state of paranoia to come over the
makes the cow appear thoroughly stoned; -t
tired cow; -w
is somewhat the opposite of -t
, and initiates
wired mode; -y
brings on the cow's youthful appearance.
The user may specify the -e
option to select the appearance of the cow's
eyes, in which case the first two characters of the argument string
will be used. The default eyes are 'oo'. The tongue is
similarly configurable through -T
; it must be
two characters and does not appear by default. However, it does appear in the
'dead' and 'stoned' modes. Any configuration done by -e
will be lost if one of the provided modes is used.
option specifies a particular cow picture file (``cowfile'') to
use. If the cowfile spec contains '/' then it will be interpreted as a path
relative to the current directory. Otherwise, cowsay will search the path
specified in the COWPATH
environment variable. To list all cowfiles on
the current COWPATH
, invoke cowsay
with the -l
If the program is invoked as cowthink
then the cow will think its message
instead of saying it.
A cowfile is made up of a simple block of perl
(1) code, which assigns a
picture of a cow to the variable $the_cow
. Should you wish to customize
the eyes or the tongue of the cow, then the variables $eyes
may be used. The trail leading up to the cow's message balloon
is composed of the character(s) in the $thoughts
backslashes must be reduplicated to prevent interpolation. The name of a
cowfile should end with .cow
, otherwise it is assumed not to be a
cowfile. Also, at-signs (``@'') must be backslashed because that is what Perl
What older versions? :-)
Version 3.x is fully backward-compatible with 2.x versions. If you're still
using a 1.x version, consider upgrading. And tell me where you got the older
versions, since I didn't exactly put them up for world-wide access.
Oh, just so you know, this manual page documents version 3.03 of cowsay.
The COWPATH environment variable, if present, will be used to search for
cowfiles. It contains a colon-separated list of directories, much like PATH
. It should always contain the
directory, or at least a directory with a file
holds a sample set of cowfiles. If your
is not explicitly set, it automatically contains this
If there are any, please notify the author at the address below.
Tony Monroe (email@example.com), with suggestions from Shannon Appel
(appel@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU) and contributions from Anthony Polito
perl(1), wall(1), nwrite(1), figlet(6)