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PHP Manual


(PHP 4, PHP 5)

dirnameReturns parent directory's path


string dirname ( string $path )

Given a string containing the path of a file or directory, this function will return the parent directory's path.



A path.

On Windows, both slash (/) and backslash (\) are used as directory separator character. In other environments, it is the forward slash (/).

Return Values

Returns the path of the parent directory. If there are no slashes in path, a dot ('.') is returned, indicating the current directory. Otherwise, the returned string is path with any trailing /component removed.


Version Description
5.0.0 dirname() is now binary safe
4.0.3 dirname() was fixed to be POSIX-compliant.


Example #1 dirname() example

echo "1) " dirname("/etc/passwd") . PHP_EOL// 1) /etc
echo "2) " dirname("/etc/") . PHP_EOL// 2) / (or \ on Windows)
echo "3) " dirname("."); // 3) .



dirname() operates naively on the input string, and is not aware of the actual filesystem, or path components such as "..".


dirname() is locale aware, so for it to see the correct directory name with multibyte character paths, the matching locale must be set using the setlocale() function.


Since PHP 4.3.0, you will often get a slash or a dot back from dirname() in situations where the older functionality would have given you the empty string.

Check the following change example:


//before PHP 4.3.0
dirname('c:/'); // returned '.'

//after PHP 4.3.0
dirname('c:/x'); // returns 'c:\'
dirname('c:/Temp/x'); // returns 'c:/Temp'
dirname('/x'); // returns '\'


See Also

  • basename() - Returns trailing name component of path
  • pathinfo() - Returns information about a file path
  • realpath() - Returns canonicalized absolute pathname

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