Updated: 08/08/2017 by Computer Hope

In computer programming, an interpreted programming language does not need to be compiled before its programs are executed. Instead, another program, called an interpreter, reads the program and executes it on the fly.

Benefits of compiling vs. interpreting programs

A compiled program generally performs better for the end user, because its machine code can be highly optimized during the compilation process. In contrast, interpreted languages can offer unique benefits to the programmer. One example is a REPL, which allows the programmer to interact with the program while it is being written.

Many computer languages can be either compiled or interpreted. For instance, the C programming language is usually compiled, but interpreters for C are available. JavaScript is generally considered to be an interpreted language, where the client (usually a web browser) is the interpreter. However, in most modern browsers, some form of JIT is used to compile JavaScript code before it runs. Lisp, which is often considered an interpreted language, can mix interpreted code and compiled bytecode in a single program.

Examples of interpreted languages

Common examples of interpreted programming languages include:

Compiled, Literal string, Programming terms