What Is the Use of Enum Data Type in C?


Heather Bennett

What Is the Use of Enum Data Type in C?

C programming language provides several data types to handle different kinds of data. One such useful data type is the enum, short for enumeration. An enum is a user-defined data type that allows programmers to define a set of named constants, representing a finite list of values.

How to Define an Enum in C?

To define an enum in C, you can use the following syntax:

enum enum_name {

The enum_name is the name you choose for your enumeration type, and constant1, constant2, etc., are the named constants or enumerators defined within the enum. Each constant represents a distinct value that can be assigned to variables of this enum type.


enum Days {

In this example, we have defined an enum called “Days” with named constants representing each day of the week.

Benefits of Using Enums:

  • Better Code Readability: Using enums enhances code readability by providing meaningful names to represent values. It makes the code more understandable and self-explanatory.
  • Type Safety: Enums provide type safety by restricting variable assignments to only valid values defined within the enum.

    This helps prevent accidental assignment of incorrect or invalid values.

  • Improved Maintenance: Enums make code maintenance easier. If you need to add or remove values, you can simply modify the enum definition, and all references to those values will be updated automatically.
  • Switch Statements: Enums are often used in switch statements. This allows for more readable and maintainable code when handling different cases based on the enum’s value.

Working with Enum Variables:

To declare a variable of an enum type, you can use the following syntax:

enum enum_name variable_name;

You can then assign one of the defined constants to the variable using the assignment operator (=).

enum Days today;
today = MONDAY;

In this example, we declare a variable called “today” of type “Days” and assign it the value “MONDAY”. Now, the variable “today” represents Monday within our program.


The enum data type in C provides a convenient way to define named constants and improve code readability. By using enums, you can make your code more understandable, maintainable, and less error-prone. They are particularly useful when dealing with a fixed set of related values.

Note: Remember to choose meaningful names for your enums and their constants to ensure clarity and maintainability in your code.

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