Toilet Paper 62

Copy and Swap Idiom


You are about to write a C++ class that needs a custom destructor, copy constructor, and assignment operator (rule of three). You worry about code duplication, correctness, and exception safety.


The copy and swap idiom uses the copy constructor and a swap function in order to implement the assignment operator safely. A drawback is that assignment requires a copy now. However, keep in mind to optimize late!


A counter-example that duplicates code, must avoid self-assignment, and is not exception-safe:

ToiletPaper #62: Copy- und Swap-Idiom: Bild 1

The swap function, copy constructor, and assignment operator of the copy and swap idiom:

ToiletPaper #62: Copy- und Swap-Idiom: Bild 2


Further aspects

  • C++ 11 – Move constructor and move assignment operator (rule of five)



Marian Wieczorek / Software Architect / Business Division Automotive Bavaria

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