Rust Trait

A Rust trait defines shared functionality for multiple types.

Rust traits promote type-safety, prevent errors at compile time, and act like interfaces in other languages with some distinctions.

Defining a Trait in Rust

We can define a Rust trait using the trait keyword followed by the trait name and the methods that are part of the trait.

Let's look at the syntax of a trait.

trait TraitName {
    fn method_one(&self, [arguments: argument_type]) -> return_type;
    fn method_two(&mut self, [arguments: argument_type]) -> return_type;


  • TraitName - name of the trait.
  • method_one() and method_two() - names of the methods in the trait.
  • &self and &mut self - references to the self value. A method can take either a mutable or immutable reference to the current object, depending on whether it needs to modify its value.
  • [arguments: argument_type] (optional) - list of arguments, where each argument has a name and a type.
  • return_type - type that method returns.

Now, let's define a trait.

trait MyTrait {
    fn method_one(&self);
    fn method_two(&mut self, arg: i32) -> bool;

Here, we declare a trait called MyTrait with method signatures for method_one(&self) and method_two(&mut self, arg: i32) -> bool. The method signatures describe the behaviors of the types that implement this trait.

A trait can have multiple method signatures in its body, one per line. Traits by default do nothing and only are definitions. In order to use a trait, a type needs to implement it.

Implementing a Trait in Rust

To implement a trait, we use the impl keyword. The syntax for the implementation (impl) block is:

impl TraitName for TypeName {
    fn method_one(&self, [arguments: argument_type]) -> return_type {
        // implementation for method_one

    fn method_two(&mut self, [arguments: argument_type]) -> return_type {
        // implementation for method_two


Here, TraitName is the name of the trait being implemented and TypeName is the name of the type that is implementing the trait.

Note: The implementation of a trait must have the same signature as the methods in the trait, including the name, the argument types, and the return type.

Now, let's implement the trait. We will use the MyTrait as the trait and MyStruct as the type for which we implement the trait.

trait MyTrait {
    // method signatures
    fn method_one(&self);
    fn method_two(&mut self, arg: i32) -> bool;

struct MyStruct {
    value: i32,

impl MyTrait for MyStruct { // implementation of method_one fn method_one(&self) { println!("The value is: {}", self.value); } // implementation of method_two fn method_two(&mut self, arg: i32) -> bool { if arg > 0 { self.value += arg; return true; } else { return false; } } }

In this example,

  • method_one() takes a reference to self and prints its value self.value field.
  • method_two() takes a mutable reference to self and an argument arg of type i32. If arg is greater than zero, we add arg to the value field and return true, otherwise we return false.

Example: Defining, Implementing and Using a Trait in Rust

// Define a trait Printable
trait Printable {
    fn print(&self);

// Define a struct to implement a trait
struct Person {
    name: String,
    age: u32,

// Implement trait Printable on struct Person
impl Printable for Person {
    fn print(&self) {
        println!("Person {{ name: {}, age: {} }}",, self.age);

// Define another struct to implement a trait
struct Car {
    make: String,
    model: String,

// Define trait Printable on struct Car
impl Printable for Car {
    fn print(&self) {
        println!("Car {{ make: {}, model: {} }}", self.make, self.model);

// Utility function to print any object that implements the Printable trait
fn print_thing<T: Printable>(thing: &T) {

fn main() {
    // Instantiate Person and Car
    let person = Person { name: "Hari".to_string(), age: 31 };
    let car = Car { make: "Tesla".to_string(), model: "Model X".to_string() };
    // Call print_thing with reference of Person and Car


Person { name: Hari, age: 31 }
Car { make: Tesla, model: Model X }

In this example, we define a Printable trait and implement it for two structs: Person and Car. The Printable trait requires the method name print for implementers.

In the main() function, we instantiate Person and Car, and pass it to the print_thing() function. The print_thing is a generic function that can accept reference to any object that implements the Printable trait.

To learn more about generics in Rust, visit Rust Generics.

Default Implementation of a Trait in Rust

Sometimes it's useful to have default behavior for some or all of the methods in a trait. When defining a Rust trait, we can also define a default implementation of the methods.

For example,

trait MyTrait {
    // method with a default implementation
    fn method_one(&self) {
        println!("Inside method_one");
    // method without a default implementation
    fn method_two(&self, arg: i32) -> bool;

Here, method_one() has a println!() function call inside of the method_one() body which acts as a default behavior for all types that implement the trait MyTrait.

However, method_two() just defined the method signature.

The derive Keyword in Rust

The derive keyword in Rust is used to generate implementations for certain traits for a type. It can be used in a struct or enum definition.

Let's look at an example,

// use derive keyword to generate implementations of Copy and Clone
#[derive(Copy, Clone)] struct MyStruct { value: i32, }
fn main() { let x = MyStruct { value: 10 }; let y = x; println!("x: {:?}", x.value); println!("y: {:?}", y.value); }


x = 10
y = 10

Here, we use the derive keyword to implement trait Copy and Clone from the Rust standard library.

The Copy trait allows us to assign x to y by simply copying. The Clone trait allows us to create a new instance that is an exact copy of an existing instance.

By using the derive keyword, we can avoid writing the code required to implement these traits.