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The Scope Resolution Operator: Accessing Enclosing Scopes

The scope resolution operator in C++ is typically used to link a class name with a member name to specify the class to which the member belongs. However, it also has another important use: it can grant access to a name in an enclosing scope that is hidden by a local declaration of the same name.

Consider the following example


#include <iostream>

int main() {
   int x = 10;
      int x = 5;
      std::cout << x << '\n';  // Output: 5
      std::cout << ::x << '\n';  // Output: 10
   return 0;

In this example, the inner block declares a local variable 'x' with a value of 5. However, the outer block also has a variable 'x' with a value of 10. By using the scope resolution operator '::', we can access the outer 'x' from within the inner block, even though it is otherwise hidden by the local declaration of 'x'.

This can be especially useful in cases where you need to access a variable or function from an enclosing scope that has been hidden by a local declaration. By using the scope resolution operator, you can ensure that you are accessing the correct variable or function, even if there are local declarations that would otherwise cause ambiguity.


The scope resolution operator has a lesser-known use that can be extremely helpful in certain situations. By granting access to names in enclosing scopes that are hidden by local declarations, it provides a way to ensure that your code is accessing the correct variables and functions.

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