Static items

A static item is similar to a constant, except that it represents a precise memory location in the program. A static is never "inlined" at the usage site, and all references to it refer to the same memory location. Static items have the static lifetime, which outlives all other lifetimes in a Rust program. Static items may be placed in read-only memory if they do not contain any interior mutability.

Statics may contain interior mutability through the UnsafeCell language item. All access to a static is safe, but there are a number of restrictions on statics:

  • Statics may not contain any destructors.
  • The types of static values must ascribe to Sync to allow thread-safe access.
  • Statics allow using paths to statics in the constant-expression used to initialize them, but statics may not refer to other statics by value, only by reference.
  • Constants cannot refer to statics.

Constants should in general be preferred over statics, unless large amounts of data are being stored, or single-address and mutability properties are required.

Mutable statics

If a static item is declared with the mut keyword, then it is allowed to be modified by the program. One of Rust's goals is to make concurrency bugs hard to run into, and this is obviously a very large source of race conditions or other bugs. For this reason, an unsafe block is required when either reading or writing a mutable static variable. Care should be taken to ensure that modifications to a mutable static are safe with respect to other threads running in the same process.

Mutable statics are still very useful, however. They can be used with C libraries and can also be bound from C libraries (in an extern block).

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# fn atomic_add(_: &mut u32, _: u32) -> u32 { 2 }

static mut LEVELS: u32 = 0;

// This violates the idea of no shared state, and this doesn't internally
// protect against races, so this function is `unsafe`
unsafe fn bump_levels_unsafe1() -> u32 {
    let ret = LEVELS;
    LEVELS += 1;
    return ret;

// Assuming that we have an atomic_add function which returns the old value,
// this function is "safe" but the meaning of the return value may not be what
// callers expect, so it's still marked as `unsafe`
unsafe fn bump_levels_unsafe2() -> u32 {
    return atomic_add(&mut LEVELS, 1);

Mutable statics have the same restrictions as normal statics, except that the type of the value is not required to ascribe to Sync.

'static lifetime elision

Both constant and static declarations of reference types have implicit 'static lifetimes unless an explicit lifetime is specified. As such, the constant declarations involving 'static above may be written without the lifetimes. Returning to our previous example:

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
const BIT1: u32 = 1 << 0;
const BIT2: u32 = 1 << 1;

const BITS: [u32; 2] = [BIT1, BIT2];
const STRING: &str = "bitstring";

struct BitsNStrings<'a> {
    mybits: [u32; 2],
    mystring: &'a str,

const BITS_N_STRINGS: BitsNStrings = BitsNStrings {
    mybits: BITS,
    mystring: STRING,

Note that if the static or const items include function or closure references, which themselves include references, the compiler will first try the standard elision rules (see discussion in the nomicon). If it is unable to resolve the lifetimes by its usual rules, it will default to using the 'static lifetime. By way of example:

// Resolved as `fn<'a>(&'a str) -> &'a str`.
const RESOLVED_SINGLE: fn(&str) -> &str = ..

// Resolved as `Fn<'a, 'b, 'c>(&'a Foo, &'b Bar, &'c Baz) -> usize`.
const RESOLVED_MULTIPLE: Fn(&Foo, &Bar, &Baz) -> usize = ..

// There is insufficient information to bound the return reference lifetime
// relative to the argument lifetimes, so the signature is resolved as
// `Fn(&'static Foo, &'static Bar) -> &'static Baz`.
const RESOLVED_STATIC: Fn(&Foo, &Bar) -> &Baz = ..

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Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 or the MIT license, at your option.