lateinit vs lazy in Kotlin

In this blog, we will learn about the lateinit vs lazy properties in Kotlin.

In Kotlin, there are two ways to initialize a property that is not available at the time of object creation: lateinit and lazy. Both of these keywords allow you to postpone the initialization of a property until it is actually needed, but they work in slightly different ways. In this blog, we will compare and contrast lateinit vs lazy and discuss when to use each.


lateinit is a keyword that allows you to declare a non-null property without initializing it immediately. You can then initialize the property at a later time, as long as you do so before you try to access it. The most common use case for lateinit is when we are working with dependency injection frameworks like Dagger or Koin, where the initialization of certain properties might be deferred until runtime.

lateinit var myObject: MyObject

fun initializeMyObject() {
    myObject = MyObject()

There are a few things to keep in mind when using lateinit:

  • The property must be a non-null type, or else you'll get a compilation error.

  • You can only use lateinit with properties that are declared at the class level (i.e., not local variables).

  • If you try to access a lateinit property before it has been initialized, you'll get a lateinit exception at runtime.


lazy is a keyword that allows you to declare a property whose initialization is deferred until the first time it is accessed. The property is then cached, so subsequent accesses to the property will return the same value without re-initializing it. This is useful when you have expensive initialization logic that you don't want to perform unnecessarily.

val myObject: MyObject by lazy {

When using lazy, you should keep the following in mind:

  • The property must be declared with val, not var.

  • You can only use lazy with properties that are declared at the class level (i.e., not local variables).

  • The initialization logic should be thread-safe, as lazy properties are only initialized once and can be accessed by multiple threads.

When to use each

So, when should we use lateinit vs lazy? Here are some guidelines:

  • Use lateinit when we need to declare a non-null property that cannot be initialized immediately, but we know it will be initialized before it is accessed. For example, if we are working with a dependency injection framework, we might use lateinit for properties that are injected at runtime.

  • Use lazy when we need to declare a property that might not be accessed immediately, and we want to avoid unnecessary initialization. For example, if we have an expensive operation that calculates a property value, we might use lazy to ensure that it is only calculated when it is actually needed.

In summary, lateinit and lazy are two powerful tools that can help you write cleaner and more efficient Kotlin code. By understanding the differences between the two and knowing when to use each, we can write code that is both more correct and more performant.

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