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C++ Dereference


Get Memory Address and Value

In the example from the previous page, we used the pointer variable to get the memory address of a variable (used together with the & reference operator). However, you can also use the pointer to get the value of the variable, by using the * operator (the dereference operator):

Example

string food = "Pizza";  // Variable declaration
string* ptr = &food;    // Pointer declaration

// Reference: Output the memory address of food with the pointer (0x6dfed4)
cout << ptr << "\n";

// Dereference: Output the value of food with the pointer (Pizza)
cout << *ptr << "\n";
Run example »

Note that the * sign can be confusing here, as it does two different things in our code:

  • When used in declaration (string* ptr), it creates a pointer variable.
  • When not used in declaration, it act as a dereference operator.