Document numberD3122R0
ProjectProgramming Language C++, Library Working Group
Reply-toJonathan Wakely <>

Using [[nodiscard]] should be Recommended Practice


Instead of sprinkling [[nodiscard]] in hundreds of places in the library clauses, there should be a single normative recommendation to use it wherever it's appropriate.


It's not a good use of time to discuss adding [[nodiscard]] to individual function declarations. That requires LEWG time, LWG time, WG21 votes, editorial changes, and reviews to ensure those changes were correctly applied. For example, P2377R0 [[nodiscard]] in the Standard Library: Clause 23 Iterators Library only covers a single clause and is still nearly ten pages of wording. And it has a mistake in the very first change it proposes to a declaration, which would need to be reviewed and corrected.

What we want is for real implementations to give real warnings to users writing real code. Whether the attribute is literally present on individual declarations in the PDF standard is not important.

P2377R0 argued that it's a good use of committee time to add it to the library because it reminds implementors to use the attribute and improve the quality of their implementations. I feel that a single normative recommendation to use it is a far better use of time than micro-managing how implementations declare individual functions.

Implementers are best placed to decide which functions to add the attribute to for their specific implementation. If a compiler has built-in warnings for side-effect-free expressions, e.g. it can determine that it == end; doesn't modify its arguments and so issues a warning, then there is no need for that implementation to explicitly add the [[nodiscard]] attribute to every inline operator== definition. We should aim for good quality diagnostics, not worry about how that is achieved.

The wording below only talks about functions. The valid uses for nodiscard on types are less common, and it might be worth discussing individual cases, and adding the attribute to declarations in the standard if implementors need extra guidance there.


This wording is relative to N4971.

Add a new subclause after [lib.types.movedfrom]:

16.4.6.?? Discarded calls [lib.nodiscard]

Except where shown otherwise, it is unspecified which functions defined in the C++ standard library are marked with a nodiscard attribute.

Recommended practice: Implementations should issue a warning for potentially-evaluated discarded-value expressions ([expr.context]) where the expression is a call to any of the following:


Thanks to Nicolai Josuttis, Hana Dusíková, and Christopher Di Bella for the past work identifying where nodiscard is useful.


P0600R1, [[nodiscard]] in the Library, Nicolai Josuttis, 2017.
P2351R0, Mark all library static cast wrappers as [[nodiscard]], Hana Dusíková, 2020.
P2377R0, [[nodiscard]] in the Standard Library: Clause 23 Iterators Library, Christopher Di Bella, 2021.
N4971, Working Draft - Programming Languages -- C++, Thomas Köppe, 2023.