Meaning of Bitwise Operator in C Language

Categories: C language

The bitwise operators are the operators used to perform the operations on the data at the bit-level. When we perform the bitwise operations, then it is also known as bit-level programming. It consists of two digits, either 0 or 1. It is mainly used in numerical computations to make the calculations faster.

We have different types of bitwise operators in the C programming language. The following is the list of the bitwise operators:


OperatorMeaning of operator

&Bitwise AND operator

|Bitwise OR operator

^Bitwise exclusive OR operator

~One's complement operator (unary operator)

<<Left shift operator

>>Right shift operator


Bitwise AND operator

Bitwise AND operator is denoted by the single ampersand sign (&). Two integer operands are written on both sides of the (&) operator. If the corresponding bits of both the operands are 1, then the output of the bitwise AND operation is 1; otherwise, the output would be 0.


Bitwise OR operator

The bitwise OR operator is represented by a single vertical sign (|). Two integer operands are written on both sides of the (|) symbol. If the bit value of any of the operand is 1, then the output would be 1, otherwise 0.


Bitwise exclusive OR operator

Bitwise exclusive OR operator is denoted by (^) symbol. Two operands are written on both sides of the exclusive OR operator. If the corresponding bit of any of the operand is 1 then the output would be 1, otherwise 0.


Bitwise complement operator

The bitwise complement operator is also known as one's complement operator. It is represented by the symbol tilde (~). It takes only one operand or variable and performs complement operation on an operand. When we apply the complement operation on any bits, then 0 becomes 1 and 1 becomes 0.

For example,

If we have a variable named 'a',  

a = 8;  

The binary representation of the above variable is given below:  

a = 1000  

When we apply the bitwise complement operator to the operand, then the output would be:  

Result = 0111  


Bitwise shift operators

Two types of bitwise shift operators exist in C programming. The bitwise shift operators will shift the bits either on the left-side or right-side. Therefore, we can say that the bitwise shift operator is divided into two categories:

1. Left-shift operator

2. Right-shift operator




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