In C mode, support all ISO C89 programs. In C++ mode, remove GNU extensions that conflict with ISO C++.
This turns off certain features of GCC that are incompatible with ISO C89 (when compiling C code), or of standard C++ (when compiling C++ code), such as the asm and typeof keywords, and predefined macros such as unix and vax that identify the type of system you are using. It also enables the undesirable and rarely used ISO trigraph feature. For the C compiler, it disables recognition of C++ style // comments as well as the inline keyword.
The alternate keywords __asm__, __extension__, __inline__ and __typeof__ continue to work despite -ansi. You would not want to use them in an ISO C program, of course, but it is useful to put them in header files that might be included in compilations done with -ansi. Alternate predefined macros such as __unix__ and __vax__ are also available, with or without -ansi.
The -ansi option does not cause non-ISO programs to be rejected gratuitously. For that, -pedantic is required in addition to -ansi. See Warning Options.
The macro __STRICT_ANSI__ is predefined when the -ansi option is used. Some header files may notice this macro and refrain from declaring certain functions or defining certain macros that the ISO standard doesn't call for; this is to avoid interfering with any programs that might use these names for other things.
Functions which would normally be built in but do not have semantics defined by ISO C (such as alloca and ffs) are not built-in functions with -ansi is used. See Other built-in functions provided by GCC, for details of the functions affected.