ABI tags


This text tries to describe gcc semantic for mangling “abi_tag” attributes described in https://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc/C_002b_002b-Attributes.html

There is no guarantee the following rules are correct, complete or make sense in any way as they were determined empirically by experiments with gcc5.


ABI tags are declared in an abi_tag attribute and can be applied to a function, variable, class or inline namespace declaration. The attribute takes one or more strings (called tags); the order does not matter.

See https://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc/C_002b_002b-Attributes.html for details.

Tags on an inline namespace are called “implicit tags”, all other tags are “explicit tags”.


All tags that are “active” on an <unqualified-name> are emitted after the <unqualified-name>, before <template-args> or <discriminator>, and are part of the same <substitution> the <unqualified-name> is.

They are mangled as:

<abi-tags> ::= <abi-tag>*   # sort by name
<abi-tag> ::= B <tag source-name>


void Func();
// gets mangled as: _Z4FuncB4testv (prettified as `Func[abi:test]()`)

Active tags

A namespace does not have any active tags. For types (class / struct / union / enum), the explicit tags are the active tags.

For variables and functions, the active tags are the explicit tags plus any “required tags” which are not in the “available tags” set:

derived-tags := (required-tags - available-tags)
active-tags := explicit-tags + derived-tags

Required tags for a function

If a function is used as a local scope for another name, and is part of another function as local scope, it doesn’t have any required tags.

If a function is used as a local scope for a guard variable name, it doesn’t have any required tags.

Otherwise the function requires any implicit or explicit tag used in the name for the return type.


namespace A {
  inline namespace B __attribute__((abi_tag)) {
    struct C { int x; };

A::C foo(); // gets mangled as: _Z3fooB1Bv (prettified as `foo[abi:B]()`)

Required tags for a variable

A variable requires any implicit or explicit tag used in its type.

Available tags

All tags used in the prefix and in the template arguments for a name are available. Also, for functions, all tags from the <bare-function-type> (which might include the return type for template functions) are available.

For <local-name>s all active tags used in the local part (<function- encoding>) are available, but not implicit tags which were not active.

Implicit and explicit tags used in the <unqualified-name> for a function (as in the type of a cast operator) are NOT available.

Example: a cast operator to std::string (which is std::__cxx11::basic_string<…>) will use ‘cxx11’ as an active tag, as it is required from the return type std::string but not available.