The global undefined property represents the primitive value undefined. It is one of JavaScript's primitive types.

Property attributes of undefined
Writable no
Enumerable no
Configurable no




undefined is a property of the global object. That is, it is a variable in global scope. The initial value of undefined is the primitive value undefined.

In modern browsers (JavaScript 1.8.5 / Firefox 4+), undefined is a non-configurable, non-writable property, per the ECMAScript 5 specification. (Even when this is not the case, avoid overriding it.)

A variable that has not been assigned a value is of type undefined. A method or statement also returns undefined if the variable that is being evaluated does not have an assigned value. A function returns undefined if a value was not returned.

Be careful. While it is possible to use it as an identifier (variable name) in any scope other than the global scope (because undefined is not a reserved word), doing so is a very bad idea that will make your code difficult to maintain and debug.


//  logs "foo string"
(function() {
  var undefined = 'foo';
  console.log(undefined, typeof undefined);

//  logs "foo string"
(function(undefined) {
  console.log(undefined, typeof undefined);


Strict equality and undefined

You can use undefined and the strict equality and inequality operators to determine whether a variable has a value. In the following code, the variable x is not initialized, and the if statement evaluates to true.

var x;
if (x === undefined) {
  // these statements execute
else {
  // these statements do not execute

Note: The strict equality operator (as opposed to the standard equality operator) must be used here, because x == undefined also checks whether x is null, while strict equality doesn't. This is because null is not equivalent to undefined.

See comparison operators for details.

typeof operator and undefined

Alternatively, typeof can be used:

var x;
if (typeof x === 'undefined') {
   // these statements execute

One reason to use typeof is that it does not throw an error if the variable has not been declared.

//  x has not been declared before
if (typeof x === 'undefined') { //  evaluates to true without errors
   //  these statements execute

if (x === undefined) { //  throws a ReferenceError


However, there is another alternative. JavaScript is a statically scoped language, so knowing if a variable is declared can be read by seeing whether it is declared in an enclosing context.

The global scope is bound to the global object, so checking the existence of a variable in the global context can be done by checking the existence of a property on the global object, using the in operator, for instance:

if ('x' in window) {
  //  these statements execute only if x is defined globally

void operator and undefined

The void operator is a third alternative.

var x;
if (x === void 0) {
  //  these statements execute

//  y has not been declared before
if (y === void 0) {
  //  throws Uncaught ReferenceError: y is not defined


ECMAScript (ECMA-262)
The definition of 'undefined' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

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See also