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How do you specify a format for the input to date?

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – Given a date and time in a format that is not recognized by date, how can I get date to recognize the date and time? For example: $ date -d "09SEP2012:23:58:46" date: invalid date `09SEP2012:23:58:46' $ date -d "09SEP2012:23:58:46" --magic-option "ddMMMYYY:hh:mm:ss" Sun Sep 9 23:58:46 MDT 2012 Does --magic-option exist? If not, is there a more elegant way to solve this rather than using sed to transform the input into a well-formed date string? (HowTos)