explicit specifier


explicit (1)
explicit ( expression ) (2) (since C++20)
expression - contextually converted constant expression of type bool
1) Specifies that a constructor or conversion function (since C++11)or deduction guide (since C++17) is explicit, that is, it cannot be used for implicit conversions and copy-initialization.
2) The explicit specifier may be used with a constant expression. The function is explicit if and only if that constant expression evaluates to true. (since C++20)

The explicit specifier may only appear within the decl-specifier-seq of the declaration of a constructor or conversion function (since C++11) within its class definition.


A constructor with a single non-default parameter (until C++11) that is declared without the function specifier explicit is called a converting constructor.

Both constructors (other than copy/move) and user-defined conversion functions may be function templates; the meaning of explicit does not change.

A ( token that follows explicit is parsed as part of the explicit specifier:

struct S
    explicit (S)(const S&);    // error in C++20, OK in C++17
    explicit (operator int)(); // error in C++20, OK in C++17
(since C++20)
Feature-test macro Value Std Comment
__cpp_conditional_explicit 201806L (C++20) explicit(bool)


struct A
    A(int) { }      // converting constructor
    A(int, int) { } // converting constructor (C++11)
    operator bool() const { return true; }
struct B
    explicit B(int) { }
    explicit B(int, int) { }
    explicit operator bool() const { return true; }
int main()
    A a1 = 1;      // OK: copy-initialization selects A::A(int)
    A a2(2);       // OK: direct-initialization selects A::A(int)
    A a3 {4, 5};   // OK: direct-list-initialization selects A::A(int, int)
    A a4 = {4, 5}; // OK: copy-list-initialization selects A::A(int, int)
    A a5 = (A)1;   // OK: explicit cast performs static_cast
    if (a1) { }    // OK: A::operator bool()
    bool na1 = a1; // OK: copy-initialization selects A::operator bool()
    bool na2 = static_cast<bool>(a1); // OK: static_cast performs direct-initialization
//  B b1 = 1;      // error: copy-initialization does not consider B::B(int)
    B b2(2);       // OK: direct-initialization selects B::B(int)
    B b3 {4, 5};   // OK: direct-list-initialization selects B::B(int, int)
//  B b4 = {4, 5}; // error: copy-list-initialization does not consider B::B(int, int)
    B b5 = (B)1;   // OK: explicit cast performs static_cast
    if (b2) { }    // OK: B::operator bool()
//  bool nb1 = b2; // error: copy-initialization does not consider B::operator bool()
    bool nb2 = static_cast<bool>(b2); // OK: static_cast performs direct-initialization
    [](...){}(a4, a5, na1, na2, b5, nb2); // may suppress "unused variable" warnings

See also

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