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Some command interpreters maintain a hash table of frequently used commands.
This eliminates having to search through a long PATH environment variable to find a corresponding executable for a command.
It can cause some problems when the command is added to a directory in the path, but not where the hash table has it recorded. These interpreters also include a "rehash" command that causes it to make a pass through the directories and identify new entries, and generate a new hash table.
The "type" command allows you to identify what is actually going to be used when a given command is issued. If a command is located in the hash table it lets you know that (useful if you expected a different result in a command).
The way shells interpret commands is also why the "." is normally excluded from the search path as a security hazard. You really don't want someone elses command to be picked when you really wanted the one you always use...