Are C++ enums signed or unsigned?


Question

Are C++ enums signed or unsigned? And by extension is it safe to validate an input by checking that it is <= your max value, and leave out >= your min value (assuming you started at 0 and incremented by 1)?

1
103
10/1/2008 6:33:03 PM

Accepted Answer

You shouldn't rely on any specific representation. Read the following link. Also, the standard says that it is implementation-defined which integral type is used as the underlying type for an enum, except that it shall not be larger than int, unless some value cannot fit into int or an unsigned int.

In short: you cannot rely on an enum being either signed or unsigned.

58
10/1/2008 6:38:27 PM

Let's go to the source. Here's what the C++03 standard (ISO/IEC 14882:2003) document says in 7.2-5 (Enumeration declarations):

The underlying type of an enumeration is an integral type that can represent all the enumerator values defined in the enumeration. It is implementation-defined which integral type is used as the underlying type for an enumeration except that the underlying type shall not be larger than int unless the value of an enumerator cannot fit in an int or unsigned int.

In short, your compiler gets to choose (obviously, if you have negative numbers for some of your ennumeration values, it'll be signed).


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