c++ for destructor - Undefined reference to vtable

13 Answers

For what it is worth, forgetting a body on a virtual destructor generates the following:

undefined reference to `vtable for CYourClass'.

I am adding a note because the error message is deceptive. (This was with gcc version 4.6.3.)

constructor qt derived

So, I'm getting the infamously horrible

undefined reference to 'vtable...

error for the following code (The class in question is CGameModule.) and I cannot for the life of me understand what the problem is. At first, I thought it was related to forgetting to give a virtual function a body, but as far as I understand, everything is all here. The inheritance chain is a little long, but here is the related source code. I'm not sure what other information I should provide.

Note: The constructor is where this error is happening, it'd seem.

My code:

class CGameModule : public CDasherModule {
  CGameModule(Dasher::CEventHandler *pEventHandler, CSettingsStore *pSettingsStore, CDasherInterfaceBase *pInterface, ModuleID_t iID, const char *szName)
  : CDasherModule(pEventHandler, pSettingsStore, iID, 0, szName)
      g_pLogger->Log("Inside game module constructor");   
      m_pInterface = pInterface; 

  virtual ~CGameModule() {};

  std::string GetTypedTarget();

  std::string GetUntypedTarget();

  bool DecorateView(CDasherView *pView) {
      //g_pLogger->Log("Decorating the view");
      return false;

  void SetDasherModel(CDasherModel *pModel) { m_pModel = pModel; }

  virtual void HandleEvent(Dasher::CEvent *pEvent); 


  CDasherNode *pLastTypedNode;

  CDasherNode *pNextTargetNode;

  std::string m_sTargetString;

  size_t m_stCurrentStringPos;

  CDasherModel *m_pModel;

  CDasherInterfaceBase *m_pInterface;

Inherits from...

class CDasherModule;
typedef std::vector<CDasherModule*>::size_type ModuleID_t;

/// \ingroup Core
/// @{
class CDasherModule : public Dasher::CDasherComponent {
  CDasherModule(Dasher::CEventHandler * pEventHandler, CSettingsStore * pSettingsStore, ModuleID_t iID, int iType, const char *szName);

  virtual ModuleID_t GetID();
  virtual void SetID(ModuleID_t);
  virtual int GetType();
  virtual const char *GetName();

  virtual bool GetSettings(SModuleSettings **pSettings, int *iCount) {
    return false;

  ModuleID_t m_iID;
  int m_iType;
  const char *m_szName;

Which inherits from....

namespace Dasher {
  class CEvent;
  class CEventHandler;
  class CDasherComponent;

/// \ingroup Core
/// @{
class Dasher::CDasherComponent {
  CDasherComponent(Dasher::CEventHandler* pEventHandler, CSettingsStore* pSettingsStore);
  virtual ~CDasherComponent();

  void InsertEvent(Dasher::CEvent * pEvent);
  virtual void HandleEvent(Dasher::CEvent * pEvent) {};

  bool GetBoolParameter(int iParameter) const;
  void SetBoolParameter(int iParameter, bool bValue) const;

  long GetLongParameter(int iParameter) const;
  void SetLongParameter(int iParameter, long lValue) const;

  std::string GetStringParameter(int iParameter) const;
  void        SetStringParameter(int iParameter, const std::string & sValue) const;

  ParameterType   GetParameterType(int iParameter) const;
  std::string     GetParameterName(int iParameter) const;

  Dasher::CEventHandler *m_pEventHandler;
  CSettingsStore *m_pSettingsStore;
/// @}


If you are using Qt, try rerunning qmake. If this error is in the widget's class, qmake might have failed to notice that the ui class vtable should be regenerated. This fixed the issue for me.

Undefined reference to vtable may occur due to the following situation also. Just try this:

Class A Contains:

virtual void functionA(parameters)=0; 
virtual void functionB(parameters);

Class B Contains:

  1. The definition for the above functionA.
  2. The definition for the above functionB.

Class C Contains: Now you're writing a Class C in which you are going to derive it from Class A.

Now if you try to compile you will get Undefined reference to vtable for Class C as error.


functionA is defined as pure virtual and its definition is provided in Class B. functionB is defined as virtual (NOT PURE VIRTUAL) so it tries to find its definition in Class A itself but you provided its definition in Class B.


  1. Make function B as pure virtual (if you have requirement like that) virtual void functionB(parameters) =0; (This works it is Tested)
  2. Provide Definition for functionB in Class A itself keeping it as virtual . (Hope it works as I didn't try this)

The GNU C++ compiler has to make a decision where to put the vtable in case you have the definition of the virtual functions of an object spread across multiple compilations units (e.g. some of the objects virtual functions definitions are in a .cpp file others in another .cpp file, and so on).

The compiler chooses to put the vtable in the same place as where the first declared virtual function is defined.

Now if you for some reason forgot to provide a definition for that first virtual function declared in the object (or mistakenly forgot to add the compiled object at linking phase), you will get this error.

As a side effect, please note that only for this particular virtual function you won't get the traditional linker error like you are missing function foo.

There is lot of speculation going on in various answers here. I'll below give a fairly minimal code that reproduces this error and explain why it is occuring.

Fairly Minimal Code to Reproduce This Error


#pragma once

class IBase {
        virtual void action() = 0;


#pragma once

#include "IBase.hpp"

class Derived : public IBase {
        Derived(int a);
        void action() override;


#include "Derived.hpp"
Derived::Derived(int a) { }
void Derived::action() {}


#include <memory>
#include "Derived.hpp"

class MyClass {

        MyClass(std::shared_ptr<Derived> newInstance) : instance(newInstance) {


        void doSomething() {

        std::shared_ptr<Derived> instance;

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
    Derived myInstance(5);
    MyClass c(std::make_shared<Derived>(myInstance));
    return 0;

You can compile this using GCC like this:

g++ -std=c++11 -o a.out myclass.cpp Derived.cpp

You can now reproduce the error by removing = 0 in IBase.hpp. I get this error:

~/.../catkin_ws$ g++ -std=c++11 -o /tmp/m.out /tmp/myclass.cpp /tmp/Derived.cpp
/tmp/cclLscB9.o: In function `IBase::IBase(IBase const&)':
myclass.cpp:(.text._ZN5IBaseC2ERKS_[_ZN5IBaseC5ERKS_]+0x13): undefined reference to `vtable for IBase'
/tmp/cc8Smvhm.o: In function `IBase::IBase()':
Derived.cpp:(.text._ZN5IBaseC2Ev[_ZN5IBaseC5Ev]+0xf): undefined reference to `vtable for IBase'
/tmp/cc8Smvhm.o:(.rodata._ZTI7Derived[_ZTI7Derived]+0x10): undefined reference to `typeinfo for IBase'
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status


Notice that above code does not require any virtual destructors, constructors or any other extra files for compile to be successful (although you should have them).

The way to understand this error is as follows: Linker is looking for constructor of IBase. This it will need it for the constructor of Derived. However as Derived overrides methods from IBase, it has vtable attached to it that will reference IBase. When linker says "undefined reference to vtable for IBase" it basically means that Derived has vtable reference to IBase but it can't find any compiled object code of IBase to look up to. So the bottom line is that class IBase has declarations without implementations. This means a method in IBase is declared as virtual but we forgot to mark it as pure virtual OR provide its definition.

Parting Tip

If all else fails then one way to debug this error is to build minimal program that does compile and then keep changing it so it gets to the state you want. In between, keep compiling to see when it starts to fail.

Note on ROS and Catkin build system

If you were compiling above set of classes in ROS using catkin build system then you will need following lines in CMakeLists.txt:

add_executable(myclass src/myclass.cpp src/Derived.cpp)
add_dependencies(myclass theseus_myclass_cpp)
target_link_libraries(myclass ${catkin_LIBRARIES})

The first line basically says that we want to make an executable named myclass and the code to build this can be found files that follows. One of these files should have main(). Notice that you don't have to specify .hpp files anywhere in CMakeLists.txt. Also you don't have to specify Derived.cpp as library.

Not to cross post but. If you are dealing with inheritance the second google hit was what I had missed, ie. all virtual methods should be defined.

Such as:

virtual void fooBar() = 0;

See answare C++ Undefined Reference to vtable and inheritance for details. Just realized it's already mentioned above, but heck it might help someone.

Perhaps missing the virtual destructor is contributing factor?

virtual ~CDasherModule(){};

Not perhaps. Definitely ~CDasherModule() {} is missing.

So I was using Qt with Windows XP and MinGW compiler and this thing was driving me crazy.

Basically the moc_xxx.cpp was generated empty even when I was added


Deleting everything making functions virtual, explicit and whatever you guess doesn't worked. Finally I started removing line by line and it turned out that I had

#ifdef something

Around the file. Even when the #ifdef was true moc file was not generated.

So removing all #ifdefs fixed the problem.

This thing was not happening with Windows and VS 2013.

If all else fails, look for duplication. I was misdirected by the explicit initial reference to constructors and destructors until I read a reference in another post. It's any unresolved method. In my case, I thought I had replaced the declaration that used char *xml as the parameter with one using the unnecessarily troublesome const char *xml, but instead, I had created a new one and left the other one in place.

I got this type of error in situations where I was trying to link to an object when I got a make bug that prevented the object being added to the archive.

Say I have libXYZ.a that supposed to have bioseq.o in int but it does not.

I got an error:

combineseq.cpp:(.text+0xabc): undefined reference to `vtable for bioseq'

This is quit different from all of the above. I would call this missing object in the archive problem.

It's also possible that you get a message like

SomeClassToTest.host.o: In function `class1::class1(std::string const&)':
class1.hpp:114: undefined reference to `vtable for class1'
SomeClassToTest.host.o: In function `class1::~class1()':
class1.hpp:119: undefined reference to `vtable for class1'
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status
[link] FAILED: 'g++' '-o' 'stage/tests/SomeClassToTest' 'object/tests/SomeClassToTest.host.o' 'object/tests/FakeClass1.SomeClassToTest.host.o'

if you forget to define a virtual function of a class FakeClass1 when you're trying to link a unit test for another class SomeClass.

//class declaration in class1.h
class class1
    virtual ~class1()
    virtual void ForgottenFunc();


//class definition in FakeClass1.h
//void ForgottenFunc() {} is missing here

In this case I suggest you check out your fake for class1 once again. You'll probably find that you may have forgotten to define a virtual function ForgottenFunc in your fake class.

I think it's also worth mentioning that you will also get the message when you try to link to object of any class that has at least one virtual method and linker cannot find the file. For example:


class Foo
    virtual void StartFooing();


#include "Foo.hpp"

void Foo::StartFooing(){ //fooing }

Compiled with:

g++ Foo.cpp -c

And main.cpp:

#include "Foo.hpp"

int main()
    Foo foo;

Compiled and linked with:

g++ main.cpp -o main

Gives our favourite error:

/tmp/cclKnW0g.o: In function main': main.cpp:(.text+0x1a): undefined reference tovtable for Foo' collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status

This occure from my undestanding becasue:

  1. Vtable is created per class at compile time

  2. Linker does not have access to vtable that is in Foo.o



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