Java Knowledge: Enum

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Enum is use to define pre-defined, finite set of objects.

We can also use Enumerated Types to describe Enum type.

An enum defines a new custom data type (like interfaces and classes).

Users are allowed to use only existing enum objects;

They can’t create new enum objects.

Create Enum

An enum enables you to create a type, which has a fixed set of constants.

Code Example:

//Assume we have: enum Level {BEGINNER,INTERMEDIATE,EXPERT}
class Game {
    Level gameLevel; //gameLevel is a variable with type Level
class GameApp {
    Game game = null;
    public void startGame () {
        game = new Game();
        game.gameLevel = Level.BEGINNER; //Assgin constant BEGINNER

You can assign only one constants defined in the enum level to gameLevel, since it is type Level.

Detail about a Enum Class

Following is the implicate class for enum Level {BEGINNER,INTERMEDIATE,EXPERT}:

final class Level extends Enum //enum is implicitly final
    //enum constants are implicitly public, static and final
    public static final Level BEGINNER;
    public static final Level INTERMEDIATE;
    public static final Level EXPERT;
    private static final Level $VALUES[];
    //creation of enum constants. This compiles after constructor
        BEGINNER = new Level("BEGINNER", 0);
        INTERMEDIATE = new Level("INTERMEDIATE", 1);
        EXPERT = new Level("EXPERT", 2);
        $VALUES = (new Level[] {
    //return an array of all enum constants
    public static Level[] values()
        return (Level[])$VALUES.clone();
    //pass a string and return corresponding enum constant
    public static Level valueOf(String s)
        return (Level)Enum.valueOf(Level, s);
    private Level(String s, int i)
        super(s, i);


All enums in Java extend the abstract class java.lang.Enum, defined in the Java API.


public abstract class Enum<E extends Enum<E>> implements Comparable<E>, Serializable {
    private final String name; //name of enum constant
    private final int ordinal; //position of enum constant
    protected Enum(String name, int ordinal) { = name;
        this.ordinal = ordinal;
    //Can be overridden, return name of constant
    public String toString() {
        return name;
    //Can not be overridden, return name of constant
    public final String name() {
        return name;

The class Enum defines only one constructor with String and int parameters to specify its name and ordinal (order). Every enum constant is implicitly assigned an order on its creation.

The default order of enum constants is their order of definition. The enum constants aren’t sorted alphabetically.

Note that both methods—toString() and name() defined in java.lang.Enum — return the value of the instance variable name

Because method name() is a final method, you can’t override it. But you can override method toString() to return any description that you want.

For an enum constant BEGINNER in enum Level, calling System.out.println(Level.BEGINNER) returns the name of the enum constant—that is, BEGINNER

You can override toString() in an enum to modify this default return value.

A class can extend from only one base class, an attempt to make your enum extend any another class will fail. The following code won’t compile:

//Won't compile
class Person {}
enum Level extends Person { BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE, EXPERT }

But you can make your enum implement any number of interfaces. A class can extend only one base class but can implement multiple interfaces. The following code compiles successfully:

//Compile successfully
interface MyInterface {}
enum Level implements MyInterface { BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE, EXPERT }
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