How doesn’t whois work properly in Mac Terminal?

Joshua Cowper November 18, 2012
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I am trying to use the Mac Terminal for whois lookups. If I type in “whois”, I get the whois results for However, if I type in “whois”, I get this:

Whois Server Version 2.0

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to
for detailed information.


To single out one record, look it up with “xxx”, where xxx is one of the
of the records displayed above. If the records are the same, look them up
with “=xxx” to receive a full display for each record.

>>> Last update of whois database: Sun, 18 Nov 2012 05:13:09 UTC

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  1. Jan Fritsch
    November 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    The whois command uses the default whois server for the TLD of the query. From there on it's pretty much "luck" whether you get a meaningful result or not.

    Since whois is not a standard protocol some server forward the query to the right DNS databases, others don't. Also some server don't return or offer this information unless queried directly to prevent lookup spam.

    "whois -h"

    Issuing this command will give you the full information. It will send the query to the whois server where the domain is residing.