strsignal, sigabbrev_np, sigdescr_np, sys_siglist — return string describing signal


#include <string.h>
char *strsignal( int sig);
const char *sigdescr_np( int sig);
const char *sigabbrev_np( int sig);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
sigabbrev_np(), sigdescr_np():
From glibc 2.10 to 2.31:
_POSIX_C_SOURCE >= 200809L Before glibc 2.10:
Since glibc 2.19:
_DEFAULT_SOURCE Glibc 2.19 and earlier:
extern const char *const sys_siglist[];


The strsignal() function returns a string describing the signal number passed in the argument sig. The string can be used only until the next call to strsignal(). The string returned by strsignal() is localized according to the LC_MESSAGES category in the current locale.

The sigdescr_np() function returns a string describing the signal number passed in the argument sig. Unlike strsignal() this string is not influenced by the current locale.

The sigabbrev_np() function returns the abbreviated name of the signal, sig. For example, given the value SIGINT, it returns the string "INT".

The (deprecated) array sys_siglist holds the signal description strings indexed by signal number. The strsignal() or the sigdescr_np() function should be used instead of this array; see also VERSIONS.


The strsignal() function returns the appropriate description string, or an unknown signal message if the signal number is invalid. On some systems (but not on Linux), NULL may instead be returned for an invalid signal number.

The sigdescr_np() and sigabbrev_np() functions return the appropriate description string. The returned string is statically allocated and valid for the lifetime of the program. These functions return NULL for an invalid signal number.


sigdescr_np() and sigabbrev_np() first appeared in glibc 2.32.

Starting with version 2.32, the sys_siglist symbol is no longer exported by glibc.


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

Interface Attribute Value
strsignal() Thread safety MT-Unsafe race:strsignal locale
sigdescr_np(), sigabbrev_np() Thread safety MT-Safe


strsignal(): POSIX.1-2008. Present on Solaris and the BSDs.

sigdescr_np() and sigdabbrev_np() are GNU extensions.

sys_siglist is nonstandard, but present on many other systems.


sigdescr_np() and sigdabbrev_np() are thread-safe and async-signal-safe.


psignal(3), strerror(3)


This page is part of release 5.13 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 1993 David Metcalfe (
and Copyright (C) 2020 Michael Kerrisk <>

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References consulted:
    Linux libc source code
    Lewine's _POSIX Programmer's Guide_ (O'Reilly & Associates, 1991)
    386BSD man pages
Modified Sat Jul 24 17:59:03 1993 by Rik Faith (