< cpp‎ | utility
Utilities library
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(not to be confused with member initializer list)

Defined in header <initializer_list>
template< class T >
class initializer_list;
(since C++11)

An object of type std::initializer_list<T> is a lightweight proxy object that provides access to an array of objects of type const T.

A std::initializer_list object is automatically constructed when:

  • a braced-init-list is used to list-initialize an object, where the corresponding constructor accepts an std::initializer_list parameter,
  • a braced-init-list is used as the right operand of assignment or as a function call argument, and the corresponding assignment operator/function accepts an std::initializer_list parameter,
  • a braced-init-list is bound to auto, including in a ranged for loop.

std::initializer_list may be implemented as a pair of pointers or pointer and length. Copying a std::initializer_list does not copy the backing array of the corresponding initializer list.

The program is ill-formed if an explicit or partial specialization of std::initializer_list is declared.


[edit] Member types

Member type Definition
value_type T
reference const T&
const_reference const T&
size_type std::size_t
iterator const T*
const_iterator const T*

[edit] Member functions

creates an empty initializer list
(public member function) [edit]
returns the number of elements in the initializer list
(public member function) [edit]
returns a pointer to the first element
(public member function) [edit]
returns a pointer to one past the last element
(public member function) [edit]

[edit] Non-member functions

overloads std::begin
(function template) [edit]
specializes std::end
(function template) [edit]
Free function templates overloaded for std::initializer_list
returns a reverse iterator to the beginning of a container or array
(function template) [edit]
returns a reverse end iterator for a container or array
(function template) [edit]
checks whether the container is empty
(function template) [edit]
obtains the pointer to the underlying array
(function template) [edit]

[edit] Notes

Feature-test macro Value Std Feature
__cpp_initializer_lists 200806L (C++11) List-initialization and std::initializer_list

[edit] Example

#include <initializer_list>
#include <iostream>
#include <vector>
template<class T>
struct S
    std::vector<T> v;
    S(std::initializer_list<T> l) : v(l)
         std::cout << "constructed with a " << l.size() << "-element list\n";
    void append(std::initializer_list<T> l)
        v.insert(v.end(), l.begin(), l.end());
    std::pair<const T*, std::size_t> c_arr() const
        return {&v[0], v.size()}; // copy list-initialization in return statement
                                  // this is NOT a use of std::initializer_list
template<typename T>
void templated_fn(T) {}
int main()
    S<int> s = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5}; // copy list-initialization
    s.append({6, 7, 8});        // list-initialization in function call
    std::cout << "The vector now has " << s.c_arr().second << " ints:\n";
    for (auto n : s.v)
        std::cout << n << ' ';
    std::cout << '\n';
    std::cout << "Range-for over brace-init-list: \n";
    for (int x : {-1, -2, -3}) // the rule for auto makes this ranged-for work
        std::cout << x << ' ';
    std::cout << '\n';
    auto al = {10, 11, 12}; // special rule for auto
    std::cout << "The list bound to auto has size() = " << al.size() << '\n';
//  templated_fn({1, 2, 3}); // compiler error! "{1, 2, 3}" is not an expression,
                             // it has no type, and so T cannot be deduced
    templated_fn<std::initializer_list<int>>({1, 2, 3}); // OK
    templated_fn<std::vector<int>>({1, 2, 3});           // also OK


constructed with a 5-element list
The vector now has 8 ints:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Range-for over brace-init-list: 
-1 -2 -3 
The list bound to auto has size() = 3

[edit] Defect reports

The following behavior-changing defect reports were applied retroactively to previously published C++ standards.

DR Applied to Behavior as published Correct behavior
LWG 2129 C++11 std::initializer_list could have explicit
specializations or partial specializations
the program is
ill-formed in this case

[edit] See also

a non-owning view over a contiguous sequence of objects
(class template) [edit]
read-only string view
(class template) [edit]