nil functions

December 18, 2023


Calling a nil function value causes a run-time panic.

So, calling a nil function causes a panic. Sensible enough. But when would you ever run across a nil function?

Let’s look at some examples.

This is probably the most obvious example, and perhaps one that popped to your mind:

var fn func(int) // fn is of type func(int), but uninitialized, so nil

fn(3) // run-time panic

But let’s consider another example, which can be a bit more confusing.

type Fooer interface {

type Wrapper struct {

w := &Wrapper{}
f := w.Foo
f() // run-time panic

Okay, that’s a lot of set-up for a run-time panic on a nil function. What’s actually going on?

Well first, I created an interface called Fooer, then I embedded that interface in a struct called Wrapper. This can be a useful technique in some cases, but it assumes that you’ll be setting the Fooer field of the struct to something that implements the interface. In contract, when I defined w := &Wrapper{}, I did not set the Fooer field, so it gets a nil value.

Then if I call w.Foo(), or set function variable to its value (i.e. f := w.Foo), I end up with a nil method or function respectively, and thus a run-time panic.

Quotes from The Go Programming Language Specification Version of August 2, 2023

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