CodeQL documentation

Ambiguously signed bit-field member

ID: cpp/ambiguously-signed-bit-field
Kind: problem
Severity: warning
Precision: high
   - reliability
   - readability
   - language-features
   - external/cwe/cwe-190
Query suites:
   - cpp-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

The signedness of a plain char, short, int, or long bit field is implementation-specific in C and in older versions of C++, and declaring their signedness explicitly removes the ambiguity and ensures portability.


Declare all members of the bit field with explicit signedness.


struct {
	int s : 4; //wrong: behavior of bit-field members with implicit signage vary across compilers
	unsigned int : 24; //correct: explicitly unsigned
	signed int : 4; //correct: explicitly signed
} bits;


  • AV Rule 154, Joint Strike Fighter Air Vehicle C++ Coding Standards. Lockheed Martin Corporation, 2005.
  • C++ Bit Fields
  • Common Weakness Enumeration: CWE-190.