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Public Instance Methods

BEGIN click to toggle source

Designates, via code block, code to be executed unconditionally before sequential execution of the program begins. Sometimes used to simulate forward references to methods.

puts times_3(gets.to_i)

  def times_3(n)
    n * 3
               # File keywords.rb, line 83
END click to toggle source

Designates, via code block, code to be executed just prior to program termination.

END { puts "Bye!" }
               # File keywords.rb, line 91
def END
__ENCODING__ click to toggle source

The current default encoding, as an Encoding instance.

               # File keywords.rb, line 31
def __ENCODING__
__END__ click to toggle source

Denotes the end of the regular source code section of a program file. Lines below __END__ will not be executed. Those lines will be available via the special filehandle DATA. The following code will print out two stanzas of personal information. Note that __END__ has to be flush left, and has to be the only thing on its line.

 DATA.each do |line|
   first, last, phone, email = line.split('|')
  puts <<-EOM
  First name: #{first}
  Last name:  #{last}
  Phone:      #{phone}
  Email:      #{email}
               # File keywords.rb, line 59
def __END__
__FILE__ click to toggle source

The name of the file currently being executed, including path relative to the directory where the application was started up (or the current directory, if it has been changed). The current file is, in some cases, different from the startup file for the running application, which is available in the global variable $0.

               # File keywords.rb, line 68
def __FILE__
__LINE__ click to toggle source

The line number, in the current source file, of the current line.

               # File keywords.rb, line 36
def __LINE__
alias click to toggle source

Creates an alias or duplicate method name for a given method. The original method continues to be accessible via the alias, even if it is overriden. Takes two method-name arguments (which can be represented by strings or symbols but can also be the bare names themselves).

class Person
  def name=(name)
    puts "Naming your person #{name}!"
    @name = name

  alias full_name= name=

p = = "David"        # Naming your person David!

class Person
  def name=(name)
    puts "Please use full_name="
end = "Joe"          # Please use full_name=
p.full_name = "Joe"     # Naming your person Joe!
               # File keywords.rb, line 121
def alias
and click to toggle source

Boolean and operator. Differs from && in that and has lower precedence. In this example:

puts "Hello" and "Goodbye"

the subexpression puts "Hello" is executed first, and returns nil. The whole expression thus reduces to:

nil and "Goodbye"

which reduces to nil. In this example, however:

puts "Hello" && "Goodbye"

the expression "Hello" && "Goodbye" is used as the argument to puts. This expression evaluates to “Goodbye”; therefore, the whole statement prints “Goodbye”.

               # File keywords.rb, line 142
def and
begin click to toggle source

Together with end, delimits what is commonly called a “begin” block (to distinguish it from the Proc type of code block). A “begin” block allows the use of while and until in modifier position with multi-line statements:

  i += 1
  puts i
end until i == 10

“Begin” blocks also serve to scope exception raising and rescue operations. See rescue for examples. A “begin” block can have an else clause, which serves no purpose (and generates a warning) unless there’s also a rescue clause, in which case the else clause is executed when no exception is raised.

               # File keywords.rb, line 161
def begin
break click to toggle source

Causes unconditional termination of a code block or while or until block, with control transfered to the line after the block. If given an argument, returns that argument as the value of the terminated block.

result ="lines.txt") do |fh|
  fh.each do |line|
    break line if my_regex.match(line)
               # File keywords.rb, line 176
def break
case click to toggle source

The case statement operator. Case statements consist of an optional condition, which is in the position of an argument to case, and zero or more when clauses. The first when clause to match the condition (or to evaluate to Boolean truth, if the condition is null) “wins”, and its code stanza is executed. The value of the case statement is the value of the successful when clause, or nil if there is no such clause.

A case statement can end with an else clause. Each when statement can have multiple candidate values, separated by commas.

case x
when 1,2,3
  puts "1, 2, or 3"
when 10
  puts "10"
  puts "Some other number"

Case equality (success by a when candidate) is determined by the case-equality or “threequal” operator, ===. The above example is equivalent to:

if 1 === x or 2 === x or 3 === x
  puts "1, 2, or 3"
elsif 10 === x
  puts "10"
  puts "Some other number"

=== is typically overriden by classes to reflect meaningful case-statement behavior; for example, /abc/ === "string" checks for a pattern match from the string.

               # File keywords.rb, line 216
def case
class click to toggle source

Opens a class definition block. Takes either a constant name or an expression of the form << object. In the latter case, opens a definition block for the singleton class of object.

Classes may be opened more than once, and methods and constants added during those subsequent openings. class blocks have their own local scope; local variables in scope already are not visible inside the block, and variables created inside the block do not survive the block.

class Person
  def name=(name)
    @name = name

david =
class << david
  def name=(name)
    if name == "David"
      @name = name
      puts "Please don't name me other than David!"
end = "Joe" # Please don't name me other than David!"
joe = = "Joe"

Inside a class block, self is set to the class object whose block it is. Thus it’s possible to write class methods (i.e., singleton methods on class objects) by referring to self:

class Person
  def self.species
    "Homo sapiens"
               # File keywords.rb, line 260
def class
def click to toggle source

Paired with a terminating end, constitutes a method definition. Starts a new local scope; local variables in existence when the def block is entered are not in scope in the block, and local variables created in the block do not survive beyond the block.

def can be used either with or without a specific object:

  • def method_name

  • def object.singleton_method_name

The parameter list comes after the method name, and can (and usually is) wrapped in parentheses.

               # File keywords.rb, line 276
def def
defined? click to toggle source

defined? expression tests whether or not expression refers to anything recognizable (literal object, local variable that has been initialized, method name visible from the current scope, etc.). The return value is nil if the expression cannot be resolved. Otherwise, the return value provides information about the expression.

Note that the expression is not executed.

p defined?(def x; end)   # "expression"
x                        # error: undefined method or variable

p defined?(@x=1)         # "assignment"
p @x                     # nil

Assignment to a local variable will, however, have the usually result of initializing the variable to nil by virtue of the assignment expression itself:

p defined?(x=1)          # assignment
p x                      # nil

In most cases, the argument to defined? will be a single identifier:

def x; end
p defined?(x)            # "method"
               # File keywords.rb, line 307
def defined?
do click to toggle source

Paired with end, can delimit a code block:

array.each do |element|
  puts element * 10

In this context, do/end is equivalent to curly braces, except that curly braces have higher precedence. In this example:

puts [1,2,3].map {|x| x * 10 }

the code block binds to map; thus the output is:


In this version, however:

puts [1,2,3].map do |x| x * 10 end

the code is interpreted as puts([1,2,3].map) do |x| x * 10 end. Since puts doesn’t take a block, the block is ignored and the statement prints the value of the blockless [1,2,3].map (which returns an Enumerator).

do can also (optionally) appear at the end of a for/in statement. (See for for an example.)

               # File keywords.rb, line 341
def do
else click to toggle source

The else keyword denotes a final conditional branch. It appears in connection with if, unless, and case, and rescue. (In the case of rescue, the else branch is executed if no exception is raised.) The else clause is always the last branch in the entire statement, except in the case of rescue where it can be followed by an ensure clause.

               # File keywords.rb, line 352
def else
elsif click to toggle source

Introduces a branch in a conditional (if or unless) statement. Such a statement can contain any number of elsif branches, including zero.

See if for examples.

               # File keywords.rb, line 361
def elsif
end click to toggle source

Marks the end of a while, until, begin, if, def, class, or other keyword-based, block-based construct.

               # File keywords.rb, line 368
def end
ensure click to toggle source

Marks the final, optional clause of a begin/end block, generally in cases where the block also contains a rescue clause. The code in the ensure clause is guaranteed to be executed, whether control flows to the rescue block or not.

rescue ZeroDivisionError
  puts "Can't do that!"
  puts "That was fun!"


 Can't do that!
That was fun!

If the statement 1/0 is changed to something harmless, like 1/1, the rescue clause will not be executed but the ensure clause still will.

               # File keywords.rb, line 391
def ensure
false click to toggle source

false denotes a special object, the sole instance of FalseClass. false and nil are the only objects that evaluate to Boolean falsehood in Ruby (informally, that cause an if condition to fail.)

               # File keywords.rb, line 399
def false
for click to toggle source

A loop constructor, used with in:

for a in [1,2,3,4,5] do
  puts a * 10

for is generally considered less idiomatic than each; indeed, for calls each, and is thus essentially a wrapper around it.

obj =
def obj.each
  yield 1; yield 2
for a in obj
  puts a



The do keyword may optionally appear at the end of the for expression:

for a in array do
  # etc.
               # File keywords.rb, line 431
def for
if click to toggle source

Ruby’s basic conditional statement constructor. if evaluates its argument and branches on the result. Additional branches can be added to an if statement with else and elsif.

if m.score > n.score
  puts "m wins!"
elsif n.score > m.score
  puts "n wins!"
  puts "Tie!"

An if statement can have more than one elsif clause (or none), but can only have one else clause (or none). The else clause must come at the end of the entire statement.

if can also be used in modifier position:

puts "You lose" if y.score < 10

then may optionally follow an if condition:

if y.score.nil? then
  puts "Have you even played the game?"
               # File keywords.rb, line 460
def if
in click to toggle source

See for.

               # File keywords.rb, line 465
def in
module click to toggle source

Opens a module definition block. Takes a constant (the name of the module) as its argument. The definition block starts a new local scope; existing variables are not visible inside the block, and local variables created in the block do not survive the end of the block.

Inside the module definition, self is set to the module object itself.

               # File keywords.rb, line 476
def module
next click to toggle source

Bumps an iterator, or a while or until block,to the next iteration, unconditionally and without executing whatever may remain of the block.

[0,1,2,3,4].each do |n|
  next unless n > 2
  puts "Big number: #{n}"


Big number: 3
Big number: 4

next is typically used in cases like iterating through a list of files and taking action (or not) depending on the filename.

next can take a value, which will be the value returned for the current iteration of the block.

sizes = [0,1,2,3,4].map do |n|
  next("big") if n > 2
  puts "Small number detected!"

p sizes


Small number detected!
Small number detected!
Small number detected!
["small", "small", "small", "big", "big"]
               # File keywords.rb, line 514
def next
nil click to toggle source

A special “non-object”. nil is, in fact, an object (the sole instance of NilClass), but connotes absence and indeterminacy. nil and false are the only two objects in Ruby that have Boolean falsehood (informally, that cause an if condition to fail).

nil serves as the default value for uninitialized array elements and hash values (unless the default is overridden).

               # File keywords.rb, line 526
def nil
not click to toggle source

Boolean negation.

not true    # false
not 10      # false
not false   # true

Similar in effect to the negating bang (!), but has lower precedence:

not 3 == 4  # true; interpreted as not (3 == 4)
!3 == 4     # false; interpreted as (!3) == 4, i.e., false == 4

(The unary ! also differs in that it can be overridden.)

               # File keywords.rb, line 543
def not
or click to toggle source

Boolean or. Differs from || in that or has lower precedence. This code:

puts "Hi" or "Bye"

is interpreted as (puts "Hi") or "Bye". Since puts "Hi" reduces to nil, the whole expression reduces to nil or "Bye" which evaluates to "Bye". (The side-effect printing of “Hi” does take place.)

This code, however:

puts "Hi" || "Bye"

is interpreted as puts("Hi" || "Bye"), which reduces to puts "Hi" (since "Hi" || "Bye" evaluates to "Hi").

               # File keywords.rb, line 564
def or
redo click to toggle source

Causes unconditional re-execution of a code block, with the same parameter bindings as the current execution.

               # File keywords.rb, line 571
def redo
rescue click to toggle source

Designates an exception-handling clause. Can occur either inside a begin<code>/<code>end block, inside a method definition (which implies begin), or in modifier position (at the end of a statement).

By default, rescue only intercepts StandardError and its descendants, but you can specify which exceptions you want handled, as arguments. (This technique does not work when rescue is in statement-modifier position.) Moreover, you can have more than one rescue clause, allowing for fine-grained handling of different exceptions.

In a method (note that raise with no argument, in a rescue clause, re-raises the exception that’s being handled):

def file_reverser(file) {|fh| puts fh.readlines.reverse }
rescue Errno::ENOENT
  log "Tried to open non-existent file #{file}"

In a begin/end block:

rescue ZeroDivisionError
  puts "No way"

In statement-modifier position:

while true
end rescue nil

david = Person.find(n) rescue

rescue (except in statement-modifier position) also takes a special argument in the following form:

rescue => e

which will assign the given local variable to the exception object, which can then be examined inside the rescue clause.

               # File keywords.rb, line 621
def rescue
retry click to toggle source

Inside a rescue clause, retry causes Ruby to return to the top of the enclosing code (the begin keyword, or top of method or block) and try executing the code again.

a = 0
rescue ZeroDivisionError => e
  puts e.message
  puts "Let's try that again..."
  a = 1
puts "That's better!"
               # File keywords.rb, line 639
def retry
return click to toggle source

Inside a method definition, executes the ensure clause, if present, and then returns control to the context of the method call. Takes an optional argument (defaulting to nil), which serves as the return value of the method. Multiple values in argument position will be returned in an array.

def three
  return 3
  puts "Enjoy the 3!"

a = three    # Enjoy the 3!
puts a   # 3

Inside a code block, the behavior of return depends on whether or not the block constitutes the body of a regular Proc object or a lambda-style Proc object. In the case of a lambda, return causes execution of the block to terminate. In the case of a regular Proc, return attempts to return from the enclosing method. If there is no enclosing method, it’s an error.

ruby -e ' {return}.call'
  => -e:1:in %xblock in <main>': unexpected return (LocalJumpError)

ruby19 -e 'p lambda {return 3}.call'
  => 3
               # File keywords.rb, line 670
def return
self click to toggle source

self is the "current object" and the default receiver of messages (method calls) for which no explicit receiver is specified. Which object plays the role of self depends on the context.

  • In a method, the object on which the method was called is self

  • In a class or module definition (but outside of any method definition contained therein), self is the class or module object being defined.

  • In a code block associated with a call to class_eval (aka module_eval), self is the class (or module) on which the method was called.

  • In a block associated with a call to instance_eval or instance_exec, self is the object on which the method was called.

self automatically receives message that don't have an explicit receiver:

class String
  def upcase_and_reverse

In this method definition, the message upcase goes to self, which is whatever string calls the method.

               # File keywords.rb, line 694
def self
super click to toggle source

Called from a method, searches along the method lookup path (the classes and modules available to the current object) for the next method of the same name as the one being executed. Such method, if present, may be defined in the superclass of the object’s class, but may also be defined in the superclass’s superclass or any class on the upward path, as well as any module mixed in to any of those classes.

module Vehicular
  def move_forward(n)
    @position += n

class Vehicle
  include Vehicular  # Adds Vehicular to the lookup path

class Car < Vehicle
  def move_forward(n)
    puts "Vrooom!"
    super            # Calls Vehicular#move_forward

Called with no arguments and no empty argument list, super calls the appropriate method with the same arguments, and the same code block, as those used to call the current method. Called with an argument list or arguments, it calls the appropriate methods with exactly the specified arguments (including none, in the case of an empty argument list indicated by empty parentheses).

               # File keywords.rb, line 729
def super
then click to toggle source

Optional component of conditional statements (if, unless, when). Never mandatory, but allows for one-line conditionals without semi-colons. The following two statements are equivalent:

if a > b; puts "a wins!" end
if a > b then puts "a wins!" end

See if for more examples.

               # File keywords.rb, line 742
def then
true click to toggle source

The sole instance of the special class TrueClass. true encapsulates Boolean truth; however, <emph>all</emph> objects in Ruby are true in the Boolean sense (informally, they cause an if test to succeed), with the exceptions of false and nil.

Because Ruby regards most objects (and therefore most expressions) as “true”, it is not always necessary to return true from a method to force a condition to succeed. However, it’s good practice to do so, as it makes the intention clear.

               # File keywords.rb, line 755
def true
undef click to toggle source

Undefines a given method, for the class or module in which it’s called. If the method is defined higher up in the lookup path (such as by a superclass), it can still be called by instances classes higher up.

class C
  def m
class D < C
class E < D

class D
  undef m
end   # Hi   # error   # error

Note that the argument to undef is a method name, not a symbol or string.

               # File keywords.rb, line 783
def undef
unless click to toggle source

The negative equivalent of if.

unless y.score > 10
  puts "Sorry; you needed 10 points to win."

See if.

               # File keywords.rb, line 794
def unless
until click to toggle source

The inverse of while: executes code until a given condition is true, i.e., while it is not true. The semantics are the same as those of while; see while.

               # File keywords.rb, line 801
def until
when click to toggle source

See case.

               # File keywords.rb, line 806
def when
while click to toggle source

while takes a condition argument, and executes the code that follows (up to a matching end delimiter) while the condition is true.

i = 0
while i < 10
  i += 1

The value of the whole while statement is the value of the last expression evaluated the last time through the code. If the code is not executed (because the condition is false at the beginning of the operation), the while statement evaluates to nil.

while can also appear in modifier position, either in a single-line statement or in a multi-line statement using a begin/end block. In the one-line case:

i = 0 i += 1 while i < 10

the leading code is not executed at all if the condition is false at the start. However, in the “begin”-block case:

i = 0
  i += 1
  puts i
end while i < 10

the block will be executed at least once, before the condition is tested the first time.

               # File keywords.rb, line 842
def while
yield click to toggle source

Called from inside a method body, yields control to the code block (if any) supplied as part of the method call. If no code block has been supplied, calling yield raises an exception.

yield can take an argument; any values thus yielded are bound to the block's parameters. The value of a call to yield is the value of the executed code block.

               # File keywords.rb, line 854
def yield

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