Delegates represent references to methods with the same signature as the delegate.

  • Note: Unlike in overloading, for delegates, a method must have the same return type as the delegate.
    They provide another way (instead of the dot operator) to call a method.
    They are defined in namespace scope (like a class).
    They support chaining (multiple methods can be called on a single event).
    Delegates have built-in support for async operations that run on a different thread.
    Delegates can also encapsulate a named or anonymous method.


  • Passing methods as arguments to other methods.
  • Defining callback methods.
  • Events.

Creating Delegates

// Declare a delegate:
public delegate void Del(string str);

public static void Notify(string name) 
    Console.WriteLine($"Notification received for {name}");

// Instantiate a delegate:
Del del1 = new Del(notify);

// OR
Del del2 = Notify;


public delegate `int` Del(`int n1, int n2`); // Create a delegate.

public class SomeClass 
    // …

    public `int` Add(`int n1, int n2`) 
        return n1 + n2;

    Del `d` = Add; // Instantiate the delegate.
    // Because the instantiated delegate is an object, it can be passed as a parameter, or assigned to a property.

    int result = `d`(1, 2); // Call the Delegate, which calls the method.

    result; // 3

Anonymous Delegates

Anonymous delegates allow you to create a delegate inline without having to define it elsewhere:

Del del3 = delegate(string name) 
    Console.WriteLine($"Notification received for {name}");

// Or:
List<int> list = new() { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 };

List<int> result = list.FindAll(
    delegate (int num) 
        return (num % 2 == 0);

Lambda Expressions

Lambda Expressions are just a convenient syntax for using delegates. They have a parameter list and method body but no formal identity:

Del del4 = name => 
    Console.WriteLine($"Notification received for {name}");

// Or:
List<int> list = new() { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 };

List<int> result = list.FindAll(x => x % 2 == 0);


Because instantiated delegates are objects, they can be passed as arguments to some method. The receiving method can then call the delegate sometime later. This is known as a callback.

// Use the SomeDelegate type as a parameter:
public static void CallbackMethod(int p1, int p1, Del callback) 
    callback($"{p1 - p2}");

// Pass the delegate created above to the method:
int result = CallbackMethod(5, 4, `d`);


Multicasting is a delegate calling more than one method when invoked.

Adding Methods to a Delegate’s Invocation List

Methods are added to a delegate’s list of methods with the + operator:

public class C 
    public void M1(string message) { Console.WriteLine($"M1: {message}"); }
    public void M2(string message) { Console.WriteLine($"M2: {message}"); }
    public void M3(string message) { Console.WriteLine($"M3: {message}"); }

var obj = new C();
Del d1 = obj.M1;
Del d2 = obj.M2;
Del d3 = obj.M3;

Del multiDel = d1 + d2;
multiDel += d3; // dWithAllMethods now has M1, M2, and M3 in its invocation list.

multiDel("foo bar baz");

Invoke Methods in a Delegate’s Invocation List

  • When invoked, all 3 methods are called in order.
  • If a delegate uses reference parameters, the reference is passed sequentially to each of the 3 methods.
  • If a method throws an exception not caught in that method, it is passed to the caller of the delegate and no more methods in the invocation list are called.
  • If a delegate has a return value, it returns the return value and parameters of the last method invoked.

Removing Methods from a Delegate’s Invocation List

Use the - operator:

multiDel -= d3; // dWithAllMethods now only has M1 and M2 in its invocation list.

Delegates with Named Methods

// Declare a delegate:
public delegate void Del(int i, int j);

public class MathClass 
    public static void Main() 
        MathClass m = new MathClass();

        // Instantiate a delegate of MultiplyNumbers():
        Del d = m.MultiplyNumbers; // Delegate d is mapped to the MultiplyNumbers instance method.

        // Invoke the delegate object.
        d(6, 6); // This runs MultiplyNumbers(6, 6)

    public void MultiplyNumbers(int m, int n) 
        Console.Writeline($"{m * n}");

Comprehensive Example

namespace Bookstore;

public struct Book 
    public string Title;
    public string Author;
    public decimal Price;
    public book Paperback;

    public Book(string title, string author, decimal price, bool paperBack) 
        Title = title;
        Author = author;
        Price = price;
        Paperback = paperBack;

// Declare the delegate:
public delegate void ProcessBookCallback(Book book);

public class BookDB 
    ArrayList list = new();

    public void AddBook(string title, string author, decimal price, bool paperBack) 
        list.Add(new Book(title, author, price, paperBack));

    // Call a passed-in delegate on each book to process it:
    public void ProcessPaperbackBooks(ProcessBookCallback processBook) 
        foreach (Book b in list)
            if (b.Paperback)

Delegates as Events

There are two pre-defined delegates to use as events:

public delegate void EventHandler(object? sender, EventArgs e);

public delegate void EventHandler<TEventArgs>(object? sender, TEventArgs e);

Delegates vs. Interfaces

Use delegates for:

  • Events
  • Encapsulating a static method
  • Easy composition
  • A class that may need more than one implementation of a method.

Use interfaces for:

  • A group of related methods that need to be called.
  • A class that needs only one implementation of a method.