cpp(1) — Linux manual page


CPP(1)                               GNU                              CPP(1)

NAME         top

       cpp - The C Preprocessor

SYNOPSIS         top

       cpp [-Dmacro[=defn]...] [-Umacro]
           [-Idir...] [-iquotedir...]
           [-M|-MM] [-MG] [-MF filename]
           [-MP] [-MQ target...]
           [-MT target...]
           infile [[-o] outfile]

       Only the most useful options are given above; see below for a more
       complete list of preprocessor-specific options.  In addition, cpp
       accepts most gcc driver options, which are not listed here.  Refer to
       the GCC documentation for details.

DESCRIPTION         top

       The C preprocessor, often known as cpp, is a macro processor that is
       used automatically by the C compiler to transform your program before
       compilation.  It is called a macro processor because it allows you to
       define macros, which are brief abbreviations for longer constructs.

       The C preprocessor is intended to be used only with C, C++, and
       Objective-C source code.  In the past, it has been abused as a
       general text processor.  It will choke on input which does not obey
       C's lexical rules.  For example, apostrophes will be interpreted as
       the beginning of character constants, and cause errors.  Also, you
       cannot rely on it preserving characteristics of the input which are
       not significant to C-family languages.  If a Makefile is
       preprocessed, all the hard tabs will be removed, and the Makefile
       will not work.

       Having said that, you can often get away with using cpp on things
       which are not C.  Other Algol-ish programming languages are often
       safe (Ada, etc.) So is assembly, with caution.  -traditional-cpp mode
       preserves more white space, and is otherwise more permissive.  Many
       of the problems can be avoided by writing C or C++ style comments
       instead of native language comments, and keeping macros simple.

       Wherever possible, you should use a preprocessor geared to the
       language you are writing in.  Modern versions of the GNU assembler
       have macro facilities.  Most high level programming languages have
       their own conditional compilation and inclusion mechanism.  If all
       else fails, try a true general text processor, such as GNU M4.

       C preprocessors vary in some details.  This manual discusses the GNU
       C preprocessor, which provides a small superset of the features of
       ISO Standard C.  In its default mode, the GNU C preprocessor does not
       do a few things required by the standard.  These are features which
       are rarely, if ever, used, and may cause surprising changes to the
       meaning of a program which does not expect them.  To get strict ISO
       Standard C, you should use the -std=c90, -std=c99, -std=c11 or
       -std=c17 options, depending on which version of the standard you
       want.  To get all the mandatory diagnostics, you must also use

       This manual describes the behavior of the ISO preprocessor.  To
       minimize gratuitous differences, where the ISO preprocessor's
       behavior does not conflict with traditional semantics, the
       traditional preprocessor should behave the same way.  The various
       differences that do exist are detailed in the section Traditional

       For clarity, unless noted otherwise, references to CPP in this manual
       refer to GNU CPP.

OPTIONS         top

       The cpp command expects two file names as arguments, infile and
       outfile.  The preprocessor reads infile together with any other files
       it specifies with #include.  All the output generated by the combined
       input files is written in outfile.

       Either infile or outfile may be -, which as infile means to read from
       standard input and as outfile means to write to standard output.  If
       either file is omitted, it means the same as if - had been specified
       for that file.  You can also use the -o outfile option to specify the
       output file.

       Unless otherwise noted, or the option ends in =, all options which
       take an argument may have that argument appear either immediately
       after the option, or with a space between option and argument: -Ifoo
       and -I foo have the same effect.

       Many options have multi-letter names; therefore multiple single-
       letter options may not be grouped: -dM is very different from -d -M.

       -D name
           Predefine name as a macro, with definition 1.

       -D name=definition
           The contents of definition are tokenized and processed as if they
           appeared during translation phase three in a #define directive.
           In particular, the definition is truncated by embedded newline

           If you are invoking the preprocessor from a shell or shell-like
           program you may need to use the shell's quoting syntax to protect
           characters such as spaces that have a meaning in the shell

           If you wish to define a function-like macro on the command line,
           write its argument list with surrounding parentheses before the
           equals sign (if any).  Parentheses are meaningful to most shells,
           so you should quote the option.  With sh and csh,
           -D'name(args...)=definition' works.

           -D and -U options are processed in the order they are given on
           the command line.  All -imacros file and -include file options
           are processed after all -D and -U options.

       -U name
           Cancel any previous definition of name, either built in or
           provided with a -D option.

       -include file
           Process file as if "#include "file"" appeared as the first line
           of the primary source file.  However, the first directory
           searched for file is the preprocessor's working directory instead
           of the directory containing the main source file.  If not found
           there, it is searched for in the remainder of the "#include
           "..."" search chain as normal.

           If multiple -include options are given, the files are included in
           the order they appear on the command line.

       -imacros file
           Exactly like -include, except that any output produced by
           scanning file is thrown away.  Macros it defines remain defined.
           This allows you to acquire all the macros from a header without
           also processing its declarations.

           All files specified by -imacros are processed before all files
           specified by -include.

           Do not predefine any system-specific or GCC-specific macros.  The
           standard predefined macros remain defined.

           Define additional macros required for using the POSIX threads
           library.  You should use this option consistently for both
           compilation and linking.  This option is supported on GNU/Linux
           targets, most other Unix derivatives, and also on x86 Cygwin and
           MinGW targets.

       -M  Instead of outputting the result of preprocessing, output a rule
           suitable for make describing the dependencies of the main source
           file.  The preprocessor outputs one make rule containing the
           object file name for that source file, a colon, and the names of
           all the included files, including those coming from -include or
           -imacros command-line options.

           Unless specified explicitly (with -MT or -MQ), the object file
           name consists of the name of the source file with any suffix
           replaced with object file suffix and with any leading directory
           parts removed.  If there are many included files then the rule is
           split into several lines using \-newline.  The rule has no

           This option does not suppress the preprocessor's debug output,
           such as -dM.  To avoid mixing such debug output with the
           dependency rules you should explicitly specify the dependency
           output file with -MF, or use an environment variable like
           DEPENDENCIES_OUTPUT.  Debug output is still sent to the regular
           output stream as normal.

           Passing -M to the driver implies -E, and suppresses warnings with
           an implicit -w.

       -MM Like -M but do not mention header files that are found in system
           header directories, nor header files that are included, directly
           or indirectly, from such a header.

           This implies that the choice of angle brackets or double quotes
           in an #include directive does not in itself determine whether
           that header appears in -MM dependency output.

       -MF file
           When used with -M or -MM, specifies a file to write the
           dependencies to.  If no -MF switch is given the preprocessor
           sends the rules to the same place it would send preprocessed

           When used with the driver options -MD or -MMD, -MF overrides the
           default dependency output file.

           If file is -, then the dependencies are written to stdout.

       -MG In conjunction with an option such as -M requesting dependency
           generation, -MG assumes missing header files are generated files
           and adds them to the dependency list without raising an error.
           The dependency filename is taken directly from the "#include"
           directive without prepending any path.  -MG also suppresses
           preprocessed output, as a missing header file renders this

           This feature is used in automatic updating of makefiles.

       -MP This option instructs CPP to add a phony target for each
           dependency other than the main file, causing each to depend on
           nothing.  These dummy rules work around errors make gives if you
           remove header files without updating the Makefile to match.

           This is typical output:

                   test.o: test.c test.h


       -MT target
           Change the target of the rule emitted by dependency generation.
           By default CPP takes the name of the main input file, deletes any
           directory components and any file suffix such as .c, and appends
           the platform's usual object suffix.  The result is the target.

           An -MT option sets the target to be exactly the string you
           specify.  If you want multiple targets, you can specify them as a
           single argument to -MT, or use multiple -MT options.

           For example, -MT '$(objpfx)foo.o' might give

                   $(objpfx)foo.o: foo.c

       -MQ target
           Same as -MT, but it quotes any characters which are special to
           Make.  -MQ '$(objpfx)foo.o' gives

                   $$(objpfx)foo.o: foo.c

           The default target is automatically quoted, as if it were given
           with -MQ.

       -MD -MD is equivalent to -M -MF file, except that -E is not implied.
           The driver determines file based on whether an -o option is
           given.  If it is, the driver uses its argument but with a suffix
           of .d, otherwise it takes the name of the input file, removes any
           directory components and suffix, and applies a .d suffix.

           If -MD is used in conjunction with -E, any -o switch is
           understood to specify the dependency output file, but if used
           without -E, each -o is understood to specify a target object

           Since -E is not implied, -MD can be used to generate a dependency
           output file as a side effect of the compilation process.

           Like -MD except mention only user header files, not system header

           Indicate to the preprocessor that the input file has already been
           preprocessed.  This suppresses things like macro expansion,
           trigraph conversion, escaped newline splicing, and processing of
           most directives.  The preprocessor still recognizes and removes
           comments, so that you can pass a file preprocessed with -C to the
           compiler without problems.  In this mode the integrated
           preprocessor is little more than a tokenizer for the front ends.

           -fpreprocessed is implicit if the input file has one of the
           extensions .i, .ii or .mi.  These are the extensions that GCC
           uses for preprocessed files created by -save-temps.

           When preprocessing, handle directives, but do not expand macros.

           The option's behavior depends on the -E and -fpreprocessed

           With -E, preprocessing is limited to the handling of directives
           such as "#define", "#ifdef", and "#error".  Other preprocessor
           operations, such as macro expansion and trigraph conversion are
           not performed.  In addition, the -dD option is implicitly

           With -fpreprocessed, predefinition of command line and most
           builtin macros is disabled.  Macros such as "__LINE__", which are
           contextually dependent, are handled normally.  This enables
           compilation of files previously preprocessed with "-E

           With both -E and -fpreprocessed, the rules for -fpreprocessed
           take precedence.  This enables full preprocessing of files
           previously preprocessed with "-E -fdirectives-only".

           Accept $ in identifiers.

           Accept universal character names in identifiers.  This option is
           enabled by default for C99 (and later C standard versions) and

           When preprocessing, do not shorten system header paths with

           Set the distance between tab stops.  This helps the preprocessor
           report correct column numbers in warnings or errors, even if tabs
           appear on the line.  If the value is less than 1 or greater than
           100, the option is ignored.  The default is 8.

           Track locations of tokens across macro expansions. This allows
           the compiler to emit diagnostic about the current macro expansion
           stack when a compilation error occurs in a macro expansion. Using
           this option makes the preprocessor and the compiler consume more
           memory. The level parameter can be used to choose the level of
           precision of token location tracking thus decreasing the memory
           consumption if necessary. Value 0 of level de-activates this
           option. Value 1 tracks tokens locations in a degraded mode for
           the sake of minimal memory overhead. In this mode all tokens
           resulting from the expansion of an argument of a function-like
           macro have the same location. Value 2 tracks tokens locations
           completely. This value is the most memory hungry.  When this
           option is given no argument, the default parameter value is 2.

           Note that "-ftrack-macro-expansion=2" is activated by default.

           When preprocessing files residing in directory old, expand the
           "__FILE__" and "__BASE_FILE__" macros as if the files resided in
           directory new instead.  This can be used to change an absolute
           path to a relative path by using . for new which can result in
           more reproducible builds that are location independent.  This
           option also affects "__builtin_FILE()" during compilation.  See
           also -ffile-prefix-map.

           Set the execution character set, used for string and character
           constants.  The default is UTF-8.  charset can be any encoding
           supported by the system's "iconv" library routine.

           Set the wide execution character set, used for wide string and
           character constants.  The default is UTF-32 or UTF-16, whichever
           corresponds to the width of "wchar_t".  As with -fexec-charset,
           charset can be any encoding supported by the system's "iconv"
           library routine; however, you will have problems with encodings
           that do not fit exactly in "wchar_t".

           Set the input character set, used for translation from the
           character set of the input file to the source character set used
           by GCC.  If the locale does not specify, or GCC cannot get this
           information from the locale, the default is UTF-8.  This can be
           overridden by either the locale or this command-line option.
           Currently the command-line option takes precedence if there's a
           conflict.  charset can be any encoding supported by the system's
           "iconv" library routine.

           Enable generation of linemarkers in the preprocessor output that
           let the compiler know the current working directory at the time
           of preprocessing.  When this option is enabled, the preprocessor
           emits, after the initial linemarker, a second linemarker with the
           current working directory followed by two slashes.  GCC uses this
           directory, when it's present in the preprocessed input, as the
           directory emitted as the current working directory in some
           debugging information formats.  This option is implicitly enabled
           if debugging information is enabled, but this can be inhibited
           with the negated form -fno-working-directory.  If the -P flag is
           present in the command line, this option has no effect, since no
           "#line" directives are emitted whatsoever.

       -A predicate=answer
           Make an assertion with the predicate predicate and answer answer.
           This form is preferred to the older form -A predicate(answer),
           which is still supported, because it does not use shell special

       -A -predicate=answer
           Cancel an assertion with the predicate predicate and answer

       -C  Do not discard comments.  All comments are passed through to the
           output file, except for comments in processed directives, which
           are deleted along with the directive.

           You should be prepared for side effects when using -C; it causes
           the preprocessor to treat comments as tokens in their own right.
           For example, comments appearing at the start of what would be a
           directive line have the effect of turning that line into an
           ordinary source line, since the first token on the line is no
           longer a #.

       -CC Do not discard comments, including during macro expansion.  This
           is like -C, except that comments contained within macros are also
           passed through to the output file where the macro is expanded.

           In addition to the side effects of the -C option, the -CC option
           causes all C++-style comments inside a macro to be converted to
           C-style comments.  This is to prevent later use of that macro
           from inadvertently commenting out the remainder of the source

           The -CC option is generally used to support lint comments.

       -P  Inhibit generation of linemarkers in the output from the
           preprocessor.  This might be useful when running the preprocessor
           on something that is not C code, and will be sent to a program
           which might be confused by the linemarkers.

           Try to imitate the behavior of pre-standard C preprocessors, as
           opposed to ISO C preprocessors.

           Note that GCC does not otherwise attempt to emulate a pre-
           standard C compiler, and these options are only supported with
           the -E switch, or when invoking CPP explicitly.

           Support ISO C trigraphs.  These are three-character sequences,
           all starting with ??, that are defined by ISO C to stand for
           single characters.  For example, ??/ stands for \, so '??/n' is a
           character constant for a newline.

           By default, GCC ignores trigraphs, but in standard-conforming
           modes it converts them.  See the -std and -ansi options.

           Enable special code to work around file systems which only permit
           very short file names, such as MS-DOS.

       -H  Print the name of each header file used, in addition to other
           normal activities.  Each name is indented to show how deep in the
           #include stack it is.  Precompiled header files are also printed,
           even if they are found to be invalid; an invalid precompiled
           header file is printed with ...x and a valid one with ...! .

           Says to make debugging dumps during compilation as specified by
           letters.  The flags documented here are those relevant to the
           preprocessor.  Other letters are interpreted by the compiler
           proper, or reserved for future versions of GCC, and so are
           silently ignored.  If you specify letters whose behavior
           conflicts, the result is undefined.

           -dM Instead of the normal output, generate a list of #define
               directives for all the macros defined during the execution of
               the preprocessor, including predefined macros.  This gives
               you a way of finding out what is predefined in your version
               of the preprocessor.  Assuming you have no file foo.h, the

                       touch foo.h; cpp -dM foo.h

               shows all the predefined macros.

           -dD Like -dM except in two respects: it does not include the
               predefined macros, and it outputs both the #define directives
               and the result of preprocessing.  Both kinds of output go to
               the standard output file.

           -dN Like -dD, but emit only the macro names, not their

           -dI Output #include directives in addition to the result of

           -dU Like -dD except that only macros that are expanded, or whose
               definedness is tested in preprocessor directives, are output;
               the output is delayed until the use or test of the macro; and
               #undef directives are also output for macros tested but
               undefined at the time.

           This option is only useful for debugging GCC.  When used from CPP
           or with -E, it dumps debugging information about location maps.
           Every token in the output is preceded by the dump of the map its
           location belongs to.

           When used from GCC without -E, this option has no effect.

       -I dir
       -iquote dir
       -isystem dir
       -idirafter dir
           Add the directory dir to the list of directories to be searched
           for header files during preprocessing.

           If dir begins with = or $SYSROOT, then the = or $SYSROOT is
           replaced by the sysroot prefix; see --sysroot and -isysroot.

           Directories specified with -iquote apply only to the quote form
           of the directive, "#include "file"".  Directories specified with
           -I, -isystem, or -idirafter apply to lookup for both the
           "#include "file"" and "#include <file>" directives.

           You can specify any number or combination of these options on the
           command line to search for header files in several directories.
           The lookup order is as follows:

           1.  For the quote form of the include directive, the directory of
               the current file is searched first.

           2.  For the quote form of the include directive, the directories
               specified by -iquote options are searched in left-to-right
               order, as they appear on the command line.

           3.  Directories specified with -I options are scanned in left-to-
               right order.

           4.  Directories specified with -isystem options are scanned in
               left-to-right order.

           5.  Standard system directories are scanned.

           6.  Directories specified with -idirafter options are scanned in
               left-to-right order.

           You can use -I to override a system header file, substituting
           your own version, since these directories are searched before the
           standard system header file directories.  However, you should not
           use this option to add directories that contain vendor-supplied
           system header files; use -isystem for that.

           The -isystem and -idirafter options also mark the directory as a
           system directory, so that it gets the same special treatment that
           is applied to the standard system directories.

           If a standard system include directory, or a directory specified
           with -isystem, is also specified with -I, the -I option is
           ignored.  The directory is still searched but as a system
           directory at its normal position in the system include chain.
           This is to ensure that GCC's procedure to fix buggy system
           headers and the ordering for the "#include_next" directive are
           not inadvertently changed.  If you really need to change the
           search order for system directories, use the -nostdinc and/or
           -isystem options.

       -I- Split the include path.  This option has been deprecated.  Please
           use -iquote instead for -I directories before the -I- and remove
           the -I- option.

           Any directories specified with -I options before -I- are searched
           only for headers requested with "#include "file""; they are not
           searched for "#include <file>".  If additional directories are
           specified with -I options after the -I-, those directories are
           searched for all #include directives.

           In addition, -I- inhibits the use of the directory of the current
           file directory as the first search directory for
           "#include "file"".  There is no way to override this effect of

       -iprefix prefix
           Specify prefix as the prefix for subsequent -iwithprefix options.
           If the prefix represents a directory, you should include the
           final /.

       -iwithprefix dir
       -iwithprefixbefore dir
           Append dir to the prefix specified previously with -iprefix, and
           add the resulting directory to the include search path.
           -iwithprefixbefore puts it in the same place -I would;
           -iwithprefix puts it where -idirafter would.

       -isysroot dir
           This option is like the --sysroot option, but applies only to
           header files (except for Darwin targets, where it applies to both
           header files and libraries).  See the --sysroot option for more

       -imultilib dir
           Use dir as a subdirectory of the directory containing target-
           specific C++ headers.

           Do not search the standard system directories for header files.
           Only the directories explicitly specified with -I, -iquote,
           -isystem, and/or -idirafter options (and the directory of the
           current file, if appropriate) are searched.

           Do not search for header files in the C++-specific standard
           directories, but do still search the other standard directories.
           (This option is used when building the C++ library.)

           Warn whenever a comment-start sequence /* appears in a /*
           comment, or whenever a backslash-newline appears in a // comment.
           This warning is enabled by -Wall.

           Warn if any trigraphs are encountered that might change the
           meaning of the program.  Trigraphs within comments are not warned
           about, except those that would form escaped newlines.

           This option is implied by -Wall.  If -Wall is not given, this
           option is still enabled unless trigraphs are enabled.  To get
           trigraph conversion without warnings, but get the other -Wall
           warnings, use -trigraphs -Wall -Wno-trigraphs.

           Warn if an undefined identifier is evaluated in an "#if"
           directive.  Such identifiers are replaced with zero.

           Warn whenever defined is encountered in the expansion of a macro
           (including the case where the macro is expanded by an #if
           directive).  Such usage is not portable.  This warning is also
           enabled by -Wpedantic and -Wextra.

           Warn about macros defined in the main file that are unused.  A
           macro is used if it is expanded or tested for existence at least
           once.  The preprocessor also warns if the macro has not been used
           at the time it is redefined or undefined.

           Built-in macros, macros defined on the command line, and macros
           defined in include files are not warned about.

           Note: If a macro is actually used, but only used in skipped
           conditional blocks, then the preprocessor reports it as unused.
           To avoid the warning in such a case, you might improve the scope
           of the macro's definition by, for example, moving it into the
           first skipped block.  Alternatively, you could provide a dummy
           use with something like:

                   #if defined the_macro_causing_the_warning

           Do not warn whenever an "#else" or an "#endif" are followed by
           text.  This sometimes happens in older programs with code of the

                   #if FOO
                   #else FOO
                   #endif FOO

           The second and third "FOO" should be in comments.  This warning
           is on by default.

ENVIRONMENT         top

       This section describes the environment variables that affect how CPP
       operates.  You can use them to specify directories or prefixes to use
       when searching for include files, or to control dependency output.

       Note that you can also specify places to search using options such as
       -I, and control dependency output with options like -M.  These take
       precedence over environment variables, which in turn take precedence
       over the configuration of GCC.

           Each variable's value is a list of directories separated by a
           special character, much like PATH, in which to look for header
           files.  The special character, "PATH_SEPARATOR", is target-
           dependent and determined at GCC build time.  For Microsoft
           Windows-based targets it is a semicolon, and for almost all other
           targets it is a colon.

           CPATH specifies a list of directories to be searched as if
           specified with -I, but after any paths given with -I options on
           the command line.  This environment variable is used regardless
           of which language is being preprocessed.

           The remaining environment variables apply only when preprocessing
           the particular language indicated.  Each specifies a list of
           directories to be searched as if specified with -isystem, but
           after any paths given with -isystem options on the command line.

           In all these variables, an empty element instructs the compiler
           to search its current working directory.  Empty elements can
           appear at the beginning or end of a path.  For instance, if the
           value of CPATH is ":/special/include", that has the same effect
           as -I. -I/special/include.

           If this variable is set, its value specifies how to output
           dependencies for Make based on the non-system header files
           processed by the compiler.  System header files are ignored in
           the dependency output.

           The value of DEPENDENCIES_OUTPUT can be just a file name, in
           which case the Make rules are written to that file, guessing the
           target name from the source file name.  Or the value can have the
           form file target, in which case the rules are written to file
           file using target as the target name.

           In other words, this environment variable is equivalent to
           combining the options -MM and -MF, with an optional -MT switch

           This variable is the same as DEPENDENCIES_OUTPUT (see above),
           except that system header files are not ignored, so it implies -M
           rather than -MM.  However, the dependence on the main input file
           is omitted.

           If this variable is set, its value specifies a UNIX timestamp to
           be used in replacement of the current date and time in the
           "__DATE__" and "__TIME__" macros, so that the embedded timestamps
           become reproducible.

           The value of SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH must be a UNIX timestamp, defined
           as the number of seconds (excluding leap seconds) since 01 Jan
           1970 00:00:00 represented in ASCII; identical to the output of
           @command{date +%s} on GNU/Linux and other systems that support
           the %s extension in the "date" command.

           The value should be a known timestamp such as the last
           modification time of the source or package and it should be set
           by the build process.

SEE ALSO         top

       gpl(7), gfdl(7), fsf-funding(7), gcc(1), and the Info entries for cpp
       and gcc.

COPYRIGHT         top

       Copyright (c) 1987-2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

       Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
       under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or
       any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.  A copy
       of the license is included in the man page gfdl(7).  This manual
       contains no Invariant Sections.  The Front-Cover Texts are (a) (see
       below), and the Back-Cover Texts are (b) (see below).

       (a) The FSF's Front-Cover Text is:

            A GNU Manual

       (b) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is:

            You have freedom to copy and modify this GNU Manual, like GNU
            software.  Copies published by the Free Software Foundation raise
            funds for GNU development.

COLOPHON         top

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gcc-9.3.0                        2020-03-12                           CPP(1)

Pages that refer to this page: g++(1)gcc(1)gfortran(1)pmcpp(1)pmgenmap(1)suffixes(7)