sigpause — atomically release blocked signals and wait for interrupt


#include <signal.h>
/*BSD( but see NOTES) */ int sigpause(int sigmask);
/* System V / UNIX 95 */
int sigpause( int sig);


Don't use this function. Use sigsuspend(2) instead.

The function sigpause() is designed to wait for some signal. It changes the process's signal mask (set of blocked signals), and then waits for a signal to arrive. Upon arrival of a signal, the original signal mask is restored.


If sigpause() returns, it was interrupted by a signal and the return value is −1 with errno set to EINTR.


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

Interface Attribute Value
sigpause() Thread safety MT-Safe


The System V version of sigpause() is standardized in POSIX.1-2001. It is also specified in POSIX.1-2008, where it is marked obsolete.



The classical BSD version of this function appeared in 4.2BSD. It sets the process's signal mask to sigmask. UNIX 95 standardized the incompatible System V version of this function, which removes only the specified signal sig from the process's signal mask. The unfortunate situation with two incompatible functions with the same name was solved by the sigsuspend(2) function, that takes a sigset_t * argument (instead of an int).

Linux notes

On Linux, this routine is a system call only on the Sparc (sparc64) architecture.

Glibc uses the BSD version if the _BSD_SOURCE feature test macro is defined and none of _POSIX_SOURCE, _POSIX_C_SOURCE, _XOPEN_SOURCE, _GNU_SOURCE, or _SVID_SOURCE is defined. Otherwise, the System V version is used, and feature test macros must be defined as follows to obtain the declaration:

  • Since glibc 2.26: _XOPEN_SOURCE >= 500

  • Glibc 2.25 and earlier: _XOPEN_SOURCE

Since glibc 2.19, only the System V version is exposed by <signal.h> applications that formerly used the BSD sigpause() should be amended to use sigsuspend(2).


kill(2), sigaction(2), sigprocmask(2), sigsuspend(2), sigblock(3), sigvec(3), feature_test_macros(7)


This page is part of release 5.11 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at−pages/.

  Copyright (C) 2004 Andries Brouwer (

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