Re-throwing exception -exception handling

In C++, rethrowing an exception in exception handling allows you to propagate an exception up the call stack from a catch block to an outer try-catch block or to an exception handler in the calling function. This is useful when you catch an exception in one part of your code but cannot handle it properly at that location, so you want to pass it to a higher-level handler for appropriate handling or logging.

To rethrow an exception in C++, you simply use the throw keyword without providing an argument inside a catch block. Here’s the basic syntax for rethrowing an exception:

try {
    // Code that may throw an exception
    throw SomeExceptionType("An error occurred.");
} catch (SomeExceptionType& ex) {
    // Exception handling
    // Rethrow the caught exception
    throw; // No argument is provided here

A few important points to keep in mind:

  1. When rethrowing, you don’t provide an argument to throw. This allows the caught exception to be propagated further.
  2. If you don’t catch an exception higher up the call stack, your program may terminate with an unhandled exception error.
  3. You can catch and rethrow exceptions in multiple catch blocks to handle different exception types at different levels.

Here’s an example of rethrowing an exception through nested try-catch block

#include <iostream>

void innerFunction() {
    try {
        // Code that may throw an exception
        throw std::runtime_error("Inner function error.");
    } catch (const std::exception& ex) {
        std::cout << "Caught exception in innerFunction(): " << ex.what() << std::endl;
        throw; // Rethrow the caught exception

void outerFunction() {
    try {
    } catch (const std::exception& ex) {
        std::cout << "Caught exception in outerFunction(): " << ex.what() << std::endl;

int main() {
    try {
    } catch (const std::exception& ex) {
        std::cout << "Caught exception in main(): " << ex.what() << std::endl;
    return 0;


Caught exception in innerFunction(): Inner function error.
Caught exception in outerFunction(): Inner function error.
Caught exception in main(): Inner function error.

In this example, the exception is thrown from innerFunction, caught, and then rethrown to the outerFunction, where it is again caught and finally propagated to the main function, where it is caught one last time. This demonstrates the propagation of the exception up the call stack.

Exception specification

An exception specification, also known as an exception specifier or exception specification clause, is a feature in some programming languages that allows a function or method to declare the types of exceptions it might throw during its execution. It is a form of contract between the function and its callers, indicating the exceptional conditions that the function can raise.

The syntax for an exception specification is as follows:

return_type function_name(parameter_list) throw (exception_list);

Here, return_type is the return type of the function, function_name is the name of the function, parameter_list is the list of function parameters, and exception_list is a comma-separated list of the types of exceptions that the function can throw.

Types of exception specification

There are two types of exception specifications:

Dynamic Exception Specification: This is the original exception specification mechanism that was available before C++11. It uses the throw keyword followed by a parenthesized list of exception types. For example:

int divide(int x, int y) throw (std::runtime_error, std::logic_error);

This specifies that the divide function may throw exceptions of types std::runtime_error and std::logic_error. If any other type of exception is thrown from the function, the program will call the std::unexpected function, which by default calls std::terminate.

Noexcept Specification: In C++, the preferred way to declare exception specifications is by using the noexcept keyword. A function declared with noexcept promises that it will not throw any exceptions. The syntax is as follows:

return_type function_name(parameter_list) noexcept;

As mentioned earlier, exception specifications were deprecated and removed in later versions of C++ due to several issues:

  1. They were not checked at compile-time but rather at runtime, which could lead to unexpected behavior and performance overhead.
  2. They made it difficult to use certain language features like move constructors and lambda functions.
  3. They were not widely used and often caused more problems than they solved.

By using exception handling without exception specifications, the compiler and standard library can better manage exceptions and optimize the code while providing the same benefits of controlled error handling. Remember to catch exceptions appropriately at the appropriate places in your code to handle errors gracefully.

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