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PARSEDATE(3) NetBSD Library Functions Manual PARSEDATE(3)
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parsedate -- date parsing function
System Utilities Library (libutil, -lutil)
parsedate(const char *datestr, const time_t *time, const int *tzoff);
The parsedate() function parses a datetime from datestr described in
English relative to an optional time point, and an optional timezone off-
set (in minutes behind/west of UTC) specified in tzoff. If time is NULL
then the current time is used. If tzoff is NULL, then the current time
zone is used.
The datestr is a sequence of white-space separated items. The white-
space is optional if the concatenated items are not ambiguous. An empty
datestr is equivalent to midnight today (the beginning of this day).
The following words have the indicated numeric meanings: last = -1, this
= 0, first, next, or one = 1, second is unused so that it is not confused
with ``seconds'', two = 2, third or three = 3, fourth or four = 4, fifth
or five = 5, sixth or six = 6, seventh or seven = 7, eighth or eight = 8,
ninth or nine = 9, tenth or ten = 10, eleventh or eleven = 11, twelfth or
twelve = 12.
The following words are recognized in English only: AM, PM, a.m., p.m.,
midnight, mn, noon.
The months: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august,
september, october, november, december, and common abbreviations for
The days of the week: sunday, monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday,
friday, saturday, and common abbreviations for them.
Time units: year, month, fortnight, week, day, hour, minute, min, second,
sec, tomorrow, yesterday.
Timezone names: gmt (+0000), ut (+0000), utc (+0000), wet (+0000), bst
(+0100), wat (-0100), at (-0200), nft (-0330), nst (-0330), ndt (-0230),
ast (-0400), adt (-0300), est (-0500), edt (-0400), cst (-0600), cdt
(-0500), mst (-0700), mdt (-0600), pst (-0800), pdt (-0700), yst (-0900),
ydt (-0800), hst (-1000), hdt (-0900), cat (-1000), ahst (-1000), nt
(-1100), idlw (-1200), cet (+0100), met (+0100), mewt (+0100), mest
(+0200), swt (+0100), sst (+0200), fwt (+0100), fst (+0200), eet (+0200),
bt (+0300), it (+0330), zp4 (+0400), zp5 (+0500), ist (+0550), zp6
(+0600), ict (+0700), wast (+0800), wadt (+0900), awst (+0800), awdt
(+0900), cct (+0800), sgt (+0800), hkt (+0800), jst (+0900), cast
(+0930), cadt (+1030), acst (+0930), acst (+1030), east (+1000), eadt
(+1100), aest (+1000), aedt (+1100), gst (+1000), nzt (+1200), nzst
(+1200), nzdt (+1300), idle (+1200).
The timezone names specify an offset from Coordinated Universal Time
(UTC) and do not imply validating the time/date to be reasonable in any
zone that happens to use the abbreviation specified.
A variety of unambiguous dates are recognized:
9/10/69 For years between 70-99 we assume 1900+ and for years
between 0-69 we assume 2000+.
2006-11-17 An ISO-8601 date.
69-09-10 The year in an ISO-8601 date is always taken literally, so
this is the year 69, not 2069.
10/1/2000 October 1, 2000; the common, but bizarre, US format.
20 Jun 1994
1-sep-06 Other common abbreviations.
1/11 The year can be omitted. This is the US month/day format.
Standard e-mail (RFC822, RFC2822, etc) formats and the output from
date(1), and asctime(3) are all supported as input.
As well as times:
Fractions of seconds (after a decimal point) are parsed, but ignored.
Relative items are also supported:
one week ago
Note that, as a special case for midnight with the name of a day only,
``midnight tuesday'' implies 00:00 at the beginning of Tuesday, whereas
``Sat mn'' implies 00:00 at the end of Saturday (i.e. early Sunday morn-
Seconds since epoch, UTC, (also known as UNIX time) are also supported:
@735275209 Tue Apr 20 03:06:49 UTC 1993
provided that the value given is within the range that can be represented
as a struct tm. Negative values (times before the epoch) are permitted,
but no other significant data.
Text in datestr enclosed in parentheses `(' and `)' is treated as a com-
ment, and ignored. Parentheses nest (the comment ends when there have
been the same number of closing parentheses as there were opening paren-
theses.) There is no escape character in comments, `)' always ends (or
decreases the nesting level of) the comment.
parsedate() returns the number of seconds passed since, or before (if
negative,) the Epoch, or -1 if the date could not be parsed properly. A
non-error result of -1 can be distinguished from an error by setting
errno to 0 before calling parsedate(), and checking the value of errno
If the tzoff parameter is given as NULL, then:
TZ The timezone to which the input is relative, when no zone informa-
tion is otherwise specified in the datestr input.
date(1), touch(1), errno(2), ctime(3), eeprom(8)
The parser used in parsedate() was originally written by Steven M.
Bellovin while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It
was later tweaked by a couple of people on Usenet. Completely overhauled
by Rich $alz and Jim Berets in August, 1990.
The parsedate() function first appeared in NetBSD 4.0.
The parsedate() function is not re-entrant or thread-safe.
The parsedate() function assumes years less than 0 mean - year, and in
non ISO formats, that years less than 70 mean 2000 + year, otherwise
years less than 100 mean 1900 + year.
The parsedate() function accepts ``12 am'' where ``12 midnight'' is
correct, and similarly ``12 pm'' for ``12 noon''. The correct forms
are also accepted.
There are various weird cases that are hard to explain, but are never-
theless considered correct.
It is very hard to specify years BC, and in any case, conversions of
times before the commencement of the modern Gregorian calendar (when
that occurred depends upon location, but late 16th century is a rough
guide) are suspicious at best, and depending upon context, often just
Despite what is stated above, ``next'' is actually 2. The input ``next
January'', instead of producing a timestamp for January of the follow-
ing year, produces one for January 2nd, of the current year. Use cau-
tion with ``next'' it rarely does what humans expect.
NetBSD 9.1 March 22, 2017 NetBSD 9.1