Closures are inherently flexible and will do what the functionality requires to make the closure work without annotation. This allows capturing to flexibly adapt to the use case, sometimes moving and sometimes borrowing. Closures can capture variables:

  • by reference: &T
  • by mutable reference: &mut T
  • by value: T

They preferentially capture variables by reference and only go lower when required.

fn main() {
    use std::mem;
    let color = "green";

    // A closure to print `color` which immediately borrows (`&`)
    // `color` and stores the borrow and closure in the `print`
    // variable. It will remain borrowed until `print` goes out of
    // scope. `println!` only requires `by reference` so it doesn't
    // impose anything more restrictive.
    let print = || println!("`color`: {}", color);

    // Call the closure using the borrow.

    let mut count = 0;

    // A closure to increment `count` could take either `&mut count`
    // or `count` but `&mut count` is less restrictive so it takes
    // that. Immediately borrows `count`.
    // A `mut` is required on `inc` because a `&mut` is stored inside.
    // Thus, calling the closure mutates the closure which requires
    // a `mut`.
    let mut inc = || {
        count += 1;
        println!("`count`: {}", count);

    // Call the closure.

    //let reborrow = &mut count;
    // ^ TODO: try uncommenting this line.
    // A non-copy type.
    let movable = Box::new(3);

    // `mem::drop` requires `T` so this must take by value. A copy type
    // would copy into the closure leaving the original untouched.
    // A non-copy must move and so `movable` immediately moves into
    // the closure.
    let consume = || {
        println!("`movable`: {:?}", movable);

    // `consume` consumes the variable so this can only be called once.
    // ^ TODO: Try uncommenting this line.

See also:

Box and std::mem::drop