Why Is C Not a Scripting Language?


Heather Bennett

Why Is C Not a Scripting Language?

When it comes to programming languages, there are various classifications based on their characteristics and usage. One such classification is between compiled languages and scripting languages.

While C is a powerful and widely used programming language, it is not typically considered a scripting language. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this distinction.

Compiled Languages vs Scripting Languages

Before diving into the reasons why C is not a scripting language, let’s first understand the difference between compiled languages and scripting languages.

Compiled Languages:

  • A compiled language like C requires a separate compilation step before execution.
  • The source code is converted into machine code by a compiler.
  • The resulting executable file can be directly executed by the computer’s processor.
  • C programs are highly efficient and offer low-level control over system resources.

Scripting Languages:

  • A scripting language like Python or JavaScript does not require separate compilation.
  • The source code is interpreted and executed line-by-line at runtime.
  • Scripting languages are typically used for automating tasks or rapid prototyping.
  • They offer high-level abstractions and are easier to learn and use for beginners.

C: A Compiled Language

C is considered a compiled language because it follows the typical characteristics of compiled languages. Here are some reasons why C is not categorized as a scripting language:

Compilation Step:

In C, before executing the program, we need to compile the source code using a compiler such as GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) or Clang. This compilation step converts the human-readable source code into machine code, which can be directly executed by the computer.

Efficiency and Low-Level Control:

C provides low-level control over system resources, making it suitable for developing system-level software like operating systems, device drivers, and embedded systems. Its efficient execution and ability to directly interact with hardware make it a preferred choice for performance-critical applications.

No Interpreter:

Unlike scripting languages, C does not rely on an interpreter to execute the code line-by-line at runtime. The compiled executable is standalone and independent of any runtime environment.


While C is a powerful programming language with a wide range of applications, it is not considered a scripting language due to its characteristics as a compiled language. The need for a compilation step, low-level control over system resources, and lack of an interpreter distinguishes C from scripting languages like Python or JavaScript. Understanding these distinctions helps in choosing the right tool for the job and expanding our programming knowledge.

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on why C is not classified as a scripting language. Happy coding!

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