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C++ Program for Deleting a Node in a Linked List

  • Last Updated : 26 Dec, 2021

We have discussed Linked List Introduction and Linked List Insertion in previous posts on a singly linked list.
Let us formulate the problem statement to understand the deletion process. Given a ‘key’, delete the first occurrence of this key in the linked list

Iterative Method:
To delete a node from the linked list, we need to do the following steps. 
1) Find the previous node of the node to be deleted. 
2) Change the next of the previous node. 
3) Free memory for the node to be deleted.



Since every node of the linked list is dynamically allocated using malloc() in C, we need to call free() for freeing memory allocated for the node to be deleted.


// A complete working C++ program to
// demonstrate deletion in singly 
// linked list with class 
#include <bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;
// A linked list node
class Node{
    int data;
    Node* next;
// Given a reference (pointer to pointer)
// to the head of a list and an int, 
// inserts a new node on the front of the
// list. 
void push(Node** head_ref, int new_data)
    Node* new_node = new Node();
    new_node->data = new_data;
    new_node->next = (*head_ref);
    (*head_ref) = new_node;
// Given a reference (pointer to pointer)
// to the head of a list and a key, deletes
// the first occurrence of key in linked list 
void deleteNode(Node** head_ref, int key)
    // Store head node
    Node* temp = *head_ref;
    Node* prev = NULL;
    // If head node itself holds
    // the key to be deleted
    if (temp != NULL && temp->data == key)
        *head_ref = temp->next; // Changed head
        delete temp;            // free old head
    // Else Search for the key to be deleted, 
    // keep track of the previous node as we
    // need to change 'prev->next' */
    while (temp != NULL && temp->data != key)
        prev = temp;
        temp = temp->next;
    // If key was not present in linked list
    if (temp == NULL)
    // Unlink the node from linked list
    prev->next = temp->next;
    // Free memory
    delete temp;
// This function prints contents of
// linked list starting from the 
// given node 
void printList(Node* node)
    while (node != NULL) 
        cout << node->data << " ";
        node = node->next;
// Driver code
int main()
    // Start with the empty list 
    Node* head = NULL;
    // Add elements in linked list
    push(&head, 7);
    push(&head, 1);
    push(&head, 3);
    push(&head, 2);
    puts("Created Linked List: ");
    deleteNode(&head, 1);
Linked List after Deletion of 1: ");
    return 0;
// This code is contributed by ac121102

Created Linked List: 
 2  3  1  7 
Linked List after Deletion of 1: 
 2  3  7

Recursive Method:

To delete a node of a linked list recursively we need to do the following steps.

1.We pass node* (node pointer) as a reference to the function (as in node* &head)

2.Now since the current node pointer is derived from the previous node’s next (which is passed by reference) so now if the value of the current node pointer is changed, the previous next node’s value also gets changed which is the required operation while deleting a node (i.e points previous node’s next to current node’s (containing key) next).

3.Find the node containing the given value.

4.Store this node to deallocate it later using free() function.

5.Change this node pointer so that it points to its next and by performing this previous node’s next also get properly linked.

Image showing deletion of a node.

Below is the implementation of the above approach.


// C++ program to delete a node in
// singly linked list recursively
#include <bits/stdc++.h>
using namespace std;
struct node {
    int info;
    node* link = NULL;
    node() {}
    node(int a)
        : info(a)
Deletes the node containing 'info' part as val and
alter the head of the linked list (recursive method)
void deleteNode(node*& head, int val)
    // Check if list is empty or we 
    // reach at the end of the
    // list.
    if (head == NULL) {
        cout << "Element not present in the list
    // If current node is the node to be deleted
    if (head->info == val) {
        node* t = head;
        head = head->link; // If it's start of the node head
                           // node points to second node
        delete (t); // Else changes previous node's link to
                    // current node's link
    deleteNode(head->link, val);
// Utility function to add a 
// node in the linked list
// Here we are passing head by 
// reference thus no need to
// return it to the main function
void push(node*& head, int data)
    node* newNode = new node(data);
    newNode->link = head;
    head = newNode;
// Utility function to print 
// the linked list (recursive
// method)
void print(node* head)
    // cout<<endl gets implicitly 
    // typecasted to bool value
    // 'true'
    if (head == NULL and cout << endl)
    cout << head->info << ' ';
int main()
    // Starting with an empty linked list
    node* head = NULL;
    // Adds new element at the 
    // beginning of the list
    push(head, 10);
    push(head, 12);
    push(head, 14);
    push(head, 15);
    // original list
    deleteNode(head, 20); // Call to delete function
    print(head); // 20 is not present thus no change in the
                 // list
    deleteNode(head, 10);
    deleteNode(head, 14);
    return 0;

Element not present in the list
15 14 12 10 
15 14 12 
15 12 

Please refer complete article on Linked List | Set 3 (Deleting a node) for more details!

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