What Is Data Type of Enum in C?


Scott Campbell

An enum, short for enumeration, is a data type in C that allows you to define a set of named values. It provides a way to associate names with values, making your code more readable and maintainable. In this article, we will explore the data type of enum in C and understand how it can be used effectively in programming.

Defining an Enum

To define an enum in C, you use the enum keyword followed by a set of named values enclosed in curly braces. Each value is separated by a comma. Let’s take a look at an example:

enum Days {

In this example, we have defined an enum called Days, which represents the days of the week. The names of the days are automatically assigned integer values starting from 0 for the first element (Monday) and incrementing by 1 for each subsequent element.

Using Enum Values

To use the values defined in an enum, you simply refer to them by their name. For example:

enum Days today = Tuesday;

In this case, we have declared a variable today of type Days, and assigned it the value Tuesday. The variable can now be used throughout your code to represent that specific day.

Assigning Custom Values to Enum Elements

If you want to assign custom values to enum elements instead of relying on the default integer assignment, you can explicitly specify the values. Let’s modify our previous example:

enum Days {
    Monday = 1,
    Tuesday = 3,
    Wednesday = 5,
    Thursday = 7,
    Friday = 9

In this updated version, we have assigned custom values to each day of the week. Now, Monday has the value 1, Tuesday has the value 3, and so on.

Benefits of Using Enums

Using enums in your C programs offers several benefits:

  • Readability: Enums provide meaningful names to represent values, making your code more readable and self-explanatory.
  • Maintainability: If you need to change the values associated with an enum, you only need to modify the enum definition. The rest of your code will automatically reflect the changes.
  • Type Safety: Enums provide type safety by restricting variable assignments to a predefined set of values. This helps prevent accidental mistakes in your code.


The enum data type in C allows you to define a set of named values, providing a more readable and maintainable way to work with constants. By assigning meaningful names to values, you can improve the clarity and intent of your code.

Additionally, enums offer type safety and make it easier to update values across your program. So next time you find yourself working with a set of related constants in C, consider using an enum for a more organized approach.

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