Using the Keyword super

Accessing Superclass Members

If your method overrides one of its superclass's methods, you can invoke the overridden method through the use of the keyword super . You can also use super to refer to a hidden field (although hiding fields is discouraged). Consider this class, Superclass :

public class Superclass {

    public void printMethod() {
        System.out.println("Printed in Superclass.");

Here is a subclass, called Subclass , that overrides printMethod() :

public class Subclass extends Superclass {

    // overrides printMethod in Superclass
    public void printMethod() {
        System.out.println("Printed in Subclass");
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Subclass s = new Subclass();

Within Subclass , the simple name printMethod() refers to the one declared in Subclass , which overrides the one in Superclass . So, to refer to printMethod() inherited from Superclass , Subclass must use a qualified name, using super as shown. Compiling and executing Subclass prints the following:

Printed in Superclass.
Printed in Subclass

Subclass Constructors

The following example illustrates how to use the super keyword to invoke a superclass's constructor. Recall from the Bicycle example that MountainBike is a subclass of Bicycle . Here is the MountainBike (subclass) constructor that calls the superclass constructor and then adds initialization code of its own:

public MountainBike(int startHeight, 
                    int startCadence,
                    int startSpeed,
                    int startGear) {
    super(startCadence, startSpeed, startGear);
    seatHeight = startHeight;

Invocation of a superclass constructor must be the first line in the subclass constructor.

The syntax for calling a superclass constructor is



super(parameter list);

With super() , the superclass no-argument constructor is called. With super(parameter list) , the superclass constructor with a matching parameter list is called.


If a constructor does not explicitly invoke a superclass constructor, the Java compiler automatically inserts a call to the no-argument constructor of the superclass. If the super class does not have a no-argument constructor, you will get a compile-time error. Object does have such a constructor, so if Object is the only superclass, there is no problem.

If a subclass constructor invokes a constructor of its superclass, either explicitly or implicitly, you might think that there will be a whole chain of constructors called, all the way back to the constructor of Object . In fact, this is the case. It is called constructor chaining, and you need to be aware of it when there is a long line of class descent.