Is there a difference between foo(void) and foo() in C++ or C?

The Question :

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Consider these two function definitions:

void foo() { }

void foo(void) { }

Is there any difference between these two? If not, why is the void argument there? Aesthetic reasons?

The Question Comments :
  • For C the Q/A is here

The Answer 1

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In C:

  • void foo() means “a function foo taking an unspecified number of arguments of unspecified type”
  • void foo(void) means “a function foo taking no arguments”

In C++:

  • void foo() means “a function foo taking no arguments”
  • void foo(void) means “a function foo taking no arguments”

By writing foo(void), therefore, we achieve the same interpretation across both languages and make our headers multilingual (though we usually need to do some more things to the headers to make them truly cross-language; namely, wrap them in an extern "C" if we’re compiling C++).

The Answer 2

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I realize your question pertains to C++, but when it comes to C the answer can be found in K&R, pages 72-73:

Furthermore, if a function declaration does not include arguments, as in

double atof();

that too is taken to mean that nothing is to be assumed about the arguments of atof; all parameter checking is turned off. This special meaning of the empty argument list is intended to permit older C programs to compile with new compilers. But it’s a bad idea to use it with new programs. If the function takes arguments, declare them; if it takes no arguments, use void.

The Answer 3

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C++11 N3337 standard draft

There is no difference.

Annex C “Compatibility” C.1.7 Clause 8: declarators says:

8.3.5 Change: In C ++ , a function declared with an empty parameter list takes no arguments. In C, an empty parameter list means that the number and type of the function arguments are unknown.


int f();
// means int f(void) in C ++
// int f( unknown ) in C

Rationale: This is to avoid erroneous function calls (i.e., function calls with the wrong number or type of arguments).

Effect on original feature: Change to semantics of well-defined feature. This feature was marked as “obsolescent” in C.

8.5.3 functions says:

4. The parameter-declaration-clause determines the arguments that can be specified, and their processing, when the function is called. […] If the parameter-declaration-clause is empty, the function takes no arguments. The parameter list (void) is equivalent to the empty parameter list.


As mentioned by C++11, int f() specifies nothing about the arguments, and is obsolescent.

It can either lead to working code or UB.

I have interpreted the C99 standard in detail at:

The Answer 4

2 people think this answer is useful

In C, you use a void in an empty function reference so that the compiler has a prototype, and that prototype has “no arguments”. In C++, you don’t have to tell the compiler that you have a prototype because you can’t leave out the prototype.

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