Trait core::marker::Copy1.0.0 [] [src]

#[lang = "copy"]
pub trait Copy: Clone { }

Types whose values can be duplicated simply by copying bits.

By default, variable bindings have 'move semantics.' In other words:

struct Foo;

let x = Foo;

let y = x;

// `x` has moved into `y`, and so cannot be used

// println!("{:?}", x); // error: use of moved valueRun

However, if a type implements Copy, it instead has 'copy semantics':

// We can derive a `Copy` implementation. `Clone` is also required, as it's
// a supertrait of `Copy`.
#[derive(Debug, Copy, Clone)]
struct Foo;

let x = Foo;

let y = x;

// `y` is a copy of `x`

println!("{:?}", x); // A-OK!Run

It's important to note that in these two examples, the only difference is whether you are allowed to access x after the assignment. Under the hood, both a copy and a move can result in bits being copied in memory, although this is sometimes optimized away.

How can I implement Copy?

There are two ways to implement Copy on your type. The simplest is to use derive:

#[derive(Copy, Clone)]
struct MyStruct;Run

You can also implement Copy and Clone manually:

struct MyStruct;

impl Copy for MyStruct { }

impl Clone for MyStruct {
    fn clone(&self) -> MyStruct {

There is a small difference between the two: the derive strategy will also place a Copy bound on type parameters, which isn't always desired.

What's the difference between Copy and Clone?

Copies happen implicitly, for example as part of an assignment y = x. The behavior of Copy is not overloadable; it is always a simple bit-wise copy.

Cloning is an explicit action, x.clone(). The implementation of Clone can provide any type-specific behavior necessary to duplicate values safely. For example, the implementation of Clone for String needs to copy the pointed-to string buffer in the heap. A simple bitwise copy of String values would merely copy the pointer, leading to a double free down the line. For this reason, String is Clone but not Copy.

Clone is a supertrait of Copy, so everything which is Copy must also implement Clone. If a type is Copy then its Clone implementation need only return *self (see the example above).

When can my type be Copy?

A type can implement Copy if all of its components implement Copy. For example, this struct can be Copy:

struct Point {
   x: i32,
   y: i32,

A struct can be Copy, and i32 is Copy, therefore Point is eligible to be Copy. By contrast, consider

struct PointList {
    points: Vec<Point>,

The struct PointList cannot implement Copy, because Vec<T> is not Copy. If we attempt to derive a Copy implementation, we'll get an error:

the trait `Copy` may not be implemented for this type; field `points` does not implement `Copy`

When can't my type be Copy?

Some types can't be copied safely. For example, copying &mut T would create an aliased mutable reference. Copying String would duplicate responsibility for managing the String's buffer, leading to a double free.

Generalizing the latter case, any type implementing Drop can't be Copy, because it's managing some resource besides its own size_of::<T> bytes.

If you try to implement Copy on a struct or enum containing non-Copy data, you will get the error E0204.

When should my type be Copy?

Generally speaking, if your type can implement Copy, it should. Keep in mind, though, that implementing Copy is part of the public API of your type. If the type might become non-Copy in the future, it could be prudent to omit the Copy implementation now, to avoid a breaking API change.