Descendants of class Exception are used to communicate between Kernel#raise and rescue statements in begin … end blocks. Exception objects carry information about the exception – its type (the exception’s class name), an optional descriptive string, and optional traceback information. Exception subclasses may add additional information like NameError#name.

Programs may make subclasses of Exception, typically of StandardError or RuntimeError, to provide custom classes and add additional information. See the subclass list below for defaults for raise and rescue.

When an exception has been raised but not yet handled (in rescue, ensure, at_exit and END blocks) the global variable $! will contain the current exception and $@ contains the current exception’s backtrace.

It is recommended that a library should have one subclass of StandardError or RuntimeError and have specific exception types inherit from it. This allows the user to rescue a generic exception type to catch all exceptions the library may raise even if future versions of the library add new exception subclasses.

For example:

class MyLibrary
  class Error < RuntimeError

  class WidgetError < Error

  class FrobError < Error


To handle both WidgetError and FrobError the library user can rescue MyLibrary::Error.

The built-in subclasses of Exception are:

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