The Definition of Verbose Output

Many Linux commands have a minus v (-v) switch. If you look at the manual pages for these commands it will say "-v - verbose output".

Essentially verbose in Linux terms means more information and the term wordy used above pretty much sums it up.

What Is Meant by Verbose When Using Linux Commands

The lspci command in Linux is used to return a list of all the PCI devices on your computer. The output for the lspci command is already fairly verbose but you can use the "-v" switch with lspci to get even more output and it goes even further by having a "-vv" and even "-vvv" switches to get really verbose output.

A simple example is the ps command which returns a list of processes.

ps -e

The above command lists every process on the system and the output from the command is as follows:

  • PID (process ID)
  • TTY (terminal type)
  • Time
  • CMD (command)

The ps command can also be associated with the minus v (-v) switch which shows verbose output.

ps -ev

The above command still shows every process but now you see the following columns:

  • PID
  • TTY
  • STAT
  • TIME
  • TRS
  • DRS
  • RSS
  • %MEM

Generally, you only want to use a verbose switch if there is extra information that you really need to see and it shouldn't be used for every command you use. Indeed not every command has an option to show verbose output.

The reason for not showing verbose output is that it actually slows down the command slightly so it isn't something you want to use inside scripts unless you specifically need to output extra information.

When using FTP verbose is a command in its own right and it is used to toggle extra information on or off depending on the setting you wish to use.


It could be said that this page is fairly verbose in giving its definition of the word verbose.

Hopefully, however, it has helped you understand why you may now be using that often used minus v (-v) switch when using Linux commands.