Defined in header <mutex>
template< class Callable, class... Args >
void call_once( std::once_flag& flag, Callable&& f, Args&&... args );
(since C++11)

Executes the Callable object f exactly once, even if called concurrently from several threads.

In detail:

  • If, by the time std::call_once is called, flag indicates that f was already called, std::call_once returns right away (such a call to std::call_once is known as passive).
  • Otherwise, std::call_once calls INVOKE(std::forward<Callable>(f), std::forward<Args>(args)...). Unlike the std::thread constructor or std::async, the arguments are not moved or copied because they do not need to be transferred to another thread of execution. (such a call to std::call_once is known as active).
    • If that invocation throws an exception, it is propagated to the caller of std::call_once, and flag is not flipped so that another call will be attempted (such a call to std::call_once is known as exceptional ).
    • If that invocation returns normally (such a call to std::call_once is known as returning), flag is flipped, and all other calls to std::call_once with the same flag are guaranteed to be passive.

All active calls on the same flag form a single total order consisting of zero or more exceptional calls, followed by one returning call. The end of each active call synchronizes-with the next active call in that order.

The return from the returning call synchronizes-with the returns from all passive calls on the same flag: this means that all concurrent calls to std::call_once are guaranteed to observe any side-effects made by the active call, with no additional synchronization.


flag - an object, for which exactly one function gets executed
f - Callable object to invoke
args... - arguments to pass to the function

Return value



  • std::system_error if any condition prevents calls to std::call_once from executing as specified
  • any exception thrown by f


If concurrent calls to std::call_once pass different functions f, it is unspecified which f will be called. The selected function runs in the same thread as the std::call_once invocation it was passed to.

Initialization of function-local statics is guaranteed to occur only once even when called from multiple threads, and may be more efficient than the equivalent code using std::call_once.

The POSIX equivalent of this function is pthread_once.


#include <iostream>
#include <mutex>
#include <thread>
std::once_flag flag1, flag2;
void simple_do_once()
    std::call_once(flag1, [](){ std::cout << "Simple example: called once\n"; });
void may_throw_function(bool do_throw)
    if (do_throw)
        std::cout << "throw: call_once will retry\n"; // this may appear more than once
        throw std::exception();
    std::cout << "Did not throw, call_once will not attempt again\n"; // guaranteed once
void do_once(bool do_throw)
        std::call_once(flag2, may_throw_function, do_throw);
    catch (...) {}
int main()
    std::thread st1(simple_do_once);
    std::thread st2(simple_do_once);
    std::thread st3(simple_do_once);
    std::thread st4(simple_do_once);
    std::thread t1(do_once, true);
    std::thread t2(do_once, true);
    std::thread t3(do_once, false);
    std::thread t4(do_once, true);

Possible output:

Simple example: called once
throw: call_once will retry
throw: call_once will retry
throw: call_once will retry
Did not throw, call_once will not attempt again

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 2442 C++11 the arguments are copied and/or moved before invocation no copying/moving is performed

See also

helper object to ensure that call_once invokes the function only once
C documentation for call_once

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