Defined in header <type_traits>
template< class T >
struct underlying_type;
(since C++11)

If T is a complete enumeration (enum) type, provides a member typedef type that names the underlying type of T.

Otherwise, the behavior is undefined.

(until C++20)

Otherwise, if T is not an enumeration type, there is no member type. Otherwise (T is an incomplete enumeration type), the program is ill-formed.

(since C++20)

The behavior of a program that adds specializations for underlying_type is undefined.

Member types

Name Definition
type the underlying type of T

Helper types

template< class T >
using underlying_type_t = typename underlying_type<T>::type;
(since C++14)


Each enumeration type has an underlying type, which can be.

  1. Specified explicitly (both scoped and unscoped enumerations);
  2. Omitted, in which case it is int for scoped enumerations or an implementation-defined integral type capable of representing all values of the enum (for unscoped enumerations).


#include <iostream>
#include <type_traits>
enum e1 {};
enum class e2 {};
enum class e3 : unsigned {};
enum class e4 : int {};
int main()
    constexpr bool e1_t = std::is_same_v<std::underlying_type_t<e1>, int>;
    constexpr bool e2_t = std::is_same_v<std::underlying_type_t<e2>, int>;
    constexpr bool e3_t = std::is_same_v<std::underlying_type_t<e3>, int>;
    constexpr bool e4_t = std::is_same_v<std::underlying_type_t<e4>, int>;
        << "underlying type for 'e1' is " << (e1_t ? "int" : "non-int") << '\n'
        << "underlying type for 'e2' is " << (e2_t ? "int" : "non-int") << '\n'
        << "underlying type for 'e3' is " << (e3_t ? "int" : "non-int") << '\n'
        << "underlying type for 'e4' is " << (e4_t ? "int" : "non-int") << '\n';

Possible output:

underlying type for 'e1' is non-int
underlying type for 'e2' is int
underlying type for 'e3' is non-int
underlying type for 'e4' is int

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 2396 C++11 incomplete enumeration types were allowed complete enumeration type required

See also

checks if a type is an enumeration type
(class template)
checks if a type is a scoped enumeration type
(class template)
converts an enumeration to its underlying type
(function template)

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