There is a terminology "safe navigation operator" in programming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_navigation_operator

But "navigation" is a noun, why an adjective "navigational" is not used?

I think this question is on border of a programming question and an English question. If you guys think I should ask this question in Stack Overflow, I'll move to there.

  • 1
    Because it's the same that we call + the plus operator or the addition operator rather than the additional operator, I suppose. Jan 15, 2017 at 11:48
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    It's a noun adjunct. In English, you can use a noun to modify another noun, like "race horse" or "apple tree" or "navigation operator".
    – stangdon
    Jan 15, 2017 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


Because the underlying operator is called a

navigation operator

and a

safe navigation operator

is a navigation operator that has been made "safe" by the way it returns its argument values.

In programming languages where the navigation operator (e.g. ".") leads to an error if applied to a null object, the safe navigation operator stops the evaluation of a method/field chain and returns null as the value of the chain expression.

Why the underlying operator is not called a "navigational operator" is a different question.

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