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In general all operators supported in Java are identical in Groovy. Groovy goes a step further by allowing you to customize behavior of operators on Groovy types.

Arithmetic and Conditional Operators

See Operator Overloading for a list of the common operators that Groovy supports.

In addition, Groovy supports the ! (not) operator as follows:

For more details about how expressions are coerced to a boolean value, see: Groovy Truth.

Collection-based Operators

Spread Operator (*.)

The Spread Operator is used to invoke an action on all items of an aggregate object. It is equivalent to calling the collect method like so:

The action may either be a method call or property access, and returns a list of the items returned from each child call. As an example:

The Spread operator will work as expected with most of the aggregate-like classes within Groovy. You can also customize your own classes to use it by defining your own iterator() method as this example shows:

Object-Related Operators

  • invokeMethod and get/setProperty (.)
  • Java field (.@)
  • The spread java field (*.@)
  • Method Reference (.&)
  • 'as' - "manual coercion" - asType(t) method
  • Groovy == ( equals()) behavior.
    • "is" for identity
  • The instanceof operator (as in Java)
Java field (.@)

Groovy dynamically creates getter method for all your fields that can be referenced as properties:

You can override these getters with your own implementations if you like:

The @ operator allows you to override this behavior and access the field directly, so to extend the previous sample:

It should be mentioned that, while interesting, this is probably not a good thing to do unless you really need to. Overriding a public interface to access the internal state of an object probably means you are about to break something. Not even recommended for use in tests since it increases coupling unnecessarily.

Other Operators

  • getAt(index) and putAt(index, value) for the subscript operator (e.g. foo[1] or foo['bar'], i.e. index is either an int or String)

  • Range Operator (..) - see Collections#Collections-Ranges
  • isCase() for the membership operator (in)

Elvis Operator (?: )

The "Elvis operator" is a shortening of Java's ternary operator. One instance of where this is handy is for returning a 'sensible default' value if an expression resolves to false or null. A simple example might look like this:

Safe Navigation Operator (?.)

The Safe Navigation operator is used to avoid a NullPointerException. Typically when you have a reference to an object you might need to verify that it is not null before accessing methods or properties of the object. To avoid this, the safe navigation operator will simply return null instead of throwing an exception, like so:

Regular Expression Operators

  • find (=~)
  • match (==~)

For more details, see: Regular Expressions

Table of Operators

Operator Name





Useful in comparisons, returns -1 if left is smaller 0 if == to right or 1 if greater than the right

Regex find


Find with a regular expresion? See Regular Expressions

Regex match


Get a match via a regex? See Regular Expressions

Java Field Override


Can be used to override generated properties to provide access to a field



Used to invoke an action on all items of an aggregate object

Spread Java Field


Amalgamation of the above two

Method Reference


Get a reference to a method, can be useful for creating closures from methods

asType Operator


Used for groovy casting, coercing one type to another.

Membership Operator


Can be used as replacement for collection.contains()

Identity Operator


Identity check. Since == is overridden in Groovy with the meaning of equality we need some fallback to check for object identity.

Safe Navigation


returns nulls instead of throwing NullPointerExceptions

Elvis Operator


Shorter ternary operator

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1 Comment

  1. There's regex find, but also regex match with ==~
    And regarding the range, yes, you can even define your own ranges of non-numeric types with RangeObject, as long as your object implements Comparable or something like that (this is explained pretty well in GinA)
    When speaking about the spread operator, we should mention it can be similar in most situations to collect{}, and that we can use it to spread arguments like that foo."$methName"(*listOfArgs). It's also possible to spread the content of a list inside another list [1,2,3,*listOfInts], and even in a map with [a:1, b:2, *:someMap]