How to write a running C code without main()?

Write a C language code that prints GeeksforGeeks without any main function.

Logically it’s seems impossible to write a C program without using a main() function. Since every program must have a main() function because:-

  • It’s an entry point of every C/C++ program.
  • All Predefined and User-defined Functions are called directly or indirectly through the main.

Therefore we will use preprocessor(a program which processes the source code before compilation) directive #define with arguments to give an impression that the program runs without main. But in reality it runs with a hidden main function. Let’s see how the preprocessor doing their job:-


Hence it can be solved in following ways:-

  1. Using a macro that defines main
    #define fun main
    int fun(void)
        return 0;

    Output: Geeksforgeeks
  2. Using Token-Pasting Operator
    The above solution has word ‘main’ in it. If we are not allowed to even write main, we can use token-pasting operator (see this for details)

    #define fun m##a##i##n
    int fun()
        return 0;

    Output: Geeksforgeeks
  3. Using Argumented Macro

    #define begin(m,a,i,n) m##a##i##n
    #define start begin(m,a,i,n)
    void start() {

    Output: Geeksforgeeks
  4. Modify the entry point during compilation

    // entry point function
    int nomain(); 
    void _start(){
        // calling entry point
    int nomain()
        return 0;


    Compilation using command :
    gcc filename.c -nostartfiles
    (nostartfiles option tells the compiler to avoid standard linking)

    Under normal compilation the body of _start() will contain a function call to main() [ this _start() will be appended to every code during normal compilation], so if that main() defination is not present it will result in error like “In function `_start’:
    (.text+0x20): undefined reference to `main’.
    In the above code what we have done is that we have defined our own _start() and defined our own entry point i.e nomain()

    • This method is contributed by Aravind Alapati

Refer Executing main() in C – behind the scene for another solution.

Macros and Preprocessors in C

This article is attributed to GeeksforGeeks.org


C c-puzzle C

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