Chapter 11 The OCaml language


This document is intended as a reference manual for the OCaml language. It lists the language constructs, and gives their precise syntax and informal semantics. It is by no means a tutorial introduction to the language. A good working knowledge of OCaml is assumed.

No attempt has been made at mathematical rigor: words are employed with their intuitive meaning, without further definition. As a consequence, the typing rules have been left out, by lack of the mathematical framework required to express them, while they are definitely part of a full formal definition of the language.


The syntax of the language is given in BNF-like notation. Terminal symbols are set in typewriter font (like this). Non-terminal symbols are set in italic font (like that). Square brackets […] denote optional components. Curly brackets {…} denotes zero, one or several repetitions of the enclosed components. Curly brackets with a trailing plus sign {…}+ denote one or several repetitions of the enclosed components. Parentheses (…) denote grouping.