What Is A Keyword?

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Keywords are words that have a predefined meaning in a programming language. Keywords are reserved words that developers or programmers cannot use as the name of say a variable, constants, and functions in most programming languages.

Any part of the syntax where the developer has the option to use any name they choose must not clash with the reserved words of that language. They convey a specific instruction and so using it as a name of something in your code might lead to confusion during compile time.

Use Cases and Examples

For example, some of the keywords in the C programming language include:

  • int: Highlights that the variable will hold an integer value.
  • long: Highlights that the variable will hold a large integer value.
  • break: Used to immediately terminate any loop or iterator.
  • if: Allows the program to enter a specific code block once certain conditions are met.

All the above keywords are frequently used by programmers while writing C code. Keywords can be different between programming languages but many languages share common keywords like if.


Keywords in a programming language are usually the key things that help a compiler or interpreter break down code into an abstract syntax tree to further convert the code into instructions the computer can execute.

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