The static storage class specifier

Objects declared with the static storage class specifier have static storage duration, which means that memory for these objects is allocated when the program begins running and is freed when the program terminates. Static storage duration for a variable is different from file or global scope: a variable can have static duration but local scope.

C only The keyword static is the major mechanism in C to enforce information hiding.

C++ C++ enforces information hiding through the namespace language feature and the access control of classes. The use of the keyword static to limit the scope of external variables is deprecated for declaring objects in namespace scope.

The static storage class specifier can be applied to the following declarations:

You cannot use the static storage class specifier with the following:

C only

At the C99 language level, the static keyword can be used in the declaration of an array parameter to a function. The static keyword indicates that the argument passed into the function is a pointer to an array of at least the specified size. In this way, the compiler is informed that the pointer argument is never null. See Static array indices in function parameter declarations (C only) for more information.

End of C only

Related information

Linkage of static variables

A declaration of an object that contains the static storage class specifier and has file scope gives the identifier internal linkage. Each instance of the particular identifier therefore represents the same object within one file only. For example, if a static variable x has been declared in function f, when the program exits the scope of f, x is not destroyed:

#include <stdio.h>

int f(void) {
  static int x = 0;
  return x;

int main(void) {
  int j;
  for (j = 0; j < 5; j++) {
    printf("Value of f(): %d\n", f());
  return 0;

The following is the output of the above example:

Value of f(): 1
Value of f(): 2
Value of f(): 3
Value of f(): 4
Value of f(): 5

Because x is a static variable, it is not reinitialized to 0 on successive calls to f.

Related information