result return [language.result]

Avoid using result for returning values.

Use expression-based return or explicit return keyword with a value


  • Recommended by NEP-1
  • Used in standard library
  • Saves a line of code avoiding an explicit var declaration
  • Accumulation-style functions that gradually build up a return value gain consistency


  • No visual (or compiler) help when a branch is missing a value, or overwrites a previous value
  • Disables compiler diagnostics for code branches that forget to set result
  • Risk of using partially initialized instances due to result being default-initialized
    • For ref types, result starts out as nil which accidentally might be returned
    • Helpers may accidentally use result before it was fully initialized
    • Async/await using result prematurely due to out-of-order execution
  • Partially initialized instances lead to exception-unsafe code where resource leaks happen
    • RVO causes observable stores in the left-hand side of assignments when exceptions are raised after partially modifying result
  • Confusing to people coming from other languages
  • Confusing semantics in templates and macros

Practical notes

Nim has 3 ways to assign a return value to a function: result, return and "expressions".

Of the three:

  • "expression" returns guarantee that all code branches produce one (and only one) value to be returned
    • Used mainly when exit points are balanced and not deeply nested
  • Explict return with a value make explicit what value is being returned in each branch
    • Used to avoid deep nesting and early exit, above all when returning early due to errors
  • result is used to accumulate / build up return value, allowing it to take on invalid values in the interim

Multiple security issues, nil reference crashes and wrong-init-order issues have been linked to the use of result and lack of assignment in branches.

In general, the use of accumulation-style initialization is discouraged unless made necessary by the data type - see Variable initialization