What is method overriding in Java – Example Tutorial

Method overriding in Java
Method overriding in Java is a concept based on polymorphism OOPS concept which allows programmer to create two methods with same name and method signature on interface and its various implementation and actual method is called at runtime depending upon type of object at runtime. Method overriding allows you to write flexible and extensible code in Java because you can introduce new functionality with minimal code change. Method overriding is different than method overloading in Java which we have discussed in last article. In method overloading, Only name of two overloaded methods are same but method signature must be different while in method overriding, method signature must be same. method overriding represent true polymorphic behaviour, where only name needs to be same underlying method logic can be different.

In this Java tutorial we will see What is method overriding in Java, Rules to override method in Java and an example of How to override method in Java. We won't discuss difference between method overloading and overriding in Java, may be some other post.

Rules of method overriding in Java

What is method overriding in Java with Example There are few rules which needs to be followed while overriding any method in Java, failure to follow these rules result in compile time error in Java.

1) First and most important rule regarding method overriding in Java is that you can only override method in sub class. You can not override method in same class.

2) Second important rule of method overriding in Java that name and signature of method must be same in Super class and Sub class or in interface and its implementation.

3) Third rule to override method in Java is that overriding method can not reduce accessibility of overridden method in Java. For example if overridden method is public than overriding method can not be protected, private or package-private; But opposite is true overriding method can increase accessibility of method in Java, i.e. if overridden method is protected than overriding method can be protected or public.

4) Another worth noting rule of method overriding in Java is that overriding  method can not throw checked Exception which is higher in hierarchy than overridden method. Which means if overridden method throws IOException than overriding method can not throw java.lang.Exception in its throws clause because java.lang.Exception comes higher than IOException in Exception hierarchy. This rule doesn't apply to RuntimeException in Java, which is not even need to be declared in throws clause in Java.

5) You can not override private, static and final method in Java. private and static method are bonded during compile time using static binding in Java  and doesn't resolve during runtime. overriding final method in Java is compile time error. Though private and static method can be hidden if you declare another method with same and signature in sub class.

6) Overridden method is called using dynamic binding in Java at runtime based upon type of Object. As shown in following example of method overloading.

7) If you are extending abstract class or implementing interface than you need to override all abstract method unless your class is not abstract. abstract method can only be used by using method overriding.

8) Always use @Override annotation while overriding method in Java. Though this is not rule but its one of the best Java coding practice to follow. From Java 6 you can use @Override annotation on method inherited from interface as well.

Method Overloading Example in Java

Now we know what is method overriding in Java and rules of method overriding, It's time to see an example of how to override method in Java. In this example, we have used Runnable interface which has an abstract run() method. We have two class Task and PeriodicTask which implements Runnable interface and override run method. 

For the purpose of demonstrating how method overriding works in Java we are calling run() method in same thread, which you should not, see difference between run and start method to know why. Because run() is overridden in two separate class, call to run() method will be resolved during runtime depending upon type of Object.

 * Java program to demonstrate how to override method in Java.
 * Overridden method are resolved during runtime based upon type of object
 * @author Javin

public class CollectionTest {
    public static void main(String args[]) {
      Runnable task = new Task();
      task.run(); //call overridden method in Task
      task = new PeriodicTask();
      task.run(); //calls overridden method in PeriodicTas


class Task implements Runnable{

    public void run() {
        System.out.println("Run method overridden in Task class");

class PeriodicTask extends Task{
    public void run() {
        System.err.println("overridden method run() in PeriodicTask class");

Run method overridden in Task class
overridden method run() in PeriodicTask class

That's all on What is method overriding in Java, Rules of method overriding in Java and an example of How to override method in Java. In summary remember to override all abstract method while extending form abstract class or implementing interface. Overridden method are also slower as compared to static and final methods because of dynamic binding but it provides you flexibility, many popular Object oriented design principles are based upon method overriding in Java.

Further Learning
SOLID Principles of Object Oriented Design
Absolute Introduction to Object Oriented Programming in Java
Java - Object Oriented Programming [For Absolute Beginners]

Other Java tutorials you may like


  1. From Java 1.5 onwards, an overridding method in Java can return sub-class of return type of overridden method. Which means if your original method return java.lang.Object than a method which overrides this in subclass can return object of Subclass. for example

    public class Shape{

    public Shape getShape(){
    return new Shape();

    public class Circle{

    public Circle getShape(){
    return new Circle();

    is legal in Java 5, 6 and Java 7.

  2. What is the advantage of @override annotation?

    1. This is to make sure that override is happening correctly and later on if super class changes thn it should reflect in subclasses.