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arguments is an Array-like object accessible inside functions that contains the values of the arguments passed to that function.

Description

Note: If you're writing ES6 compatible code, then rest parameters should be preferred.

Note: “Array-like” means that arguments has a length property and properties indexed from zero, but it doesn't have Array's built-in methods like forEach() or map(). See §Description for details.

The arguments object is a local variable available within all non-arrow functions. You can refer to a function's arguments inside that function by using its arguments object. It has entries for each argument the function was called with, with the first entry's index at 0.

For example, if a function is passed 3 arguments, you can access them as follows:

arguments[0] // first argument
arguments[1] // second argument
arguments[2] // third argument

Each argument can also be set or reassigned:

arguments[1] = 'new value';

The arguments object is not an Array. It is similar, but lacks all Array properties except length. For example, it does not have the pop() method.

However, it can be converted to a real Array:

var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments);
// Using an array literal is shorter than above but allocates an empty array
var args = [].slice.call(arguments); 

As you can do with any Array-like object, you can use ES2015's Array.from() method or spread syntax to convert arguments to a real Array:

let args = Array.from(arguments);
// or
let args = [...arguments];

The arguments object is useful for functions called with more arguments than they are formally declared to accept. This technique is useful for functions that can be passed a variable number of arguments, such as Math.min(). This example function accepts any number of string arguments and returns the longest one:

function longestString() {
  var longest = '';
  for (var i=0; i < arguments.length; i++) {
    if (arguments[i].length > longest.length) {
      longest = arguments[i];
    }
  }
  return longest;
}

You can use arguments.length to count how many arguments the function was called with. If you instead want to count how many parameters a function is declared to accept, inspect that function's length property.

Using typeof with arguments

The typeof operator returns 'object' when used with arguments

console.log(typeof arguments); // 'object' 

The type of individual arguments can be determined by indexing arguments:

console.log(typeof arguments[0]); // returns the type of the first argument

Properties

arguments.callee
Reference to the currently executing function that the arguments belong to. Forbidden in strict mode.
arguments.length
The number of arguments that were passed to the function.
arguments[@@iterator]
Returns a new Array iterator object that contains the values for each index in arguments.

Examples

Defining a function that concatenates several strings

This example defines a function that concatenates several strings. The function's only formal argument is a string containing the characters that separate the items to concatenate.

function myConcat(separator) {
  let args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1);
  return args.join(separator);
}

You can pass as many arguments as you like to this function. It returns a string list using each argument in the list:

// returns "red, orange, blue"
myConcat(', ', 'red', 'orange', 'blue');

// returns "elephant; giraffe; lion; cheetah"
myConcat('; ', 'elephant', 'giraffe', 'lion', 'cheetah');

// returns "sage. basil. oregano. pepper. parsley"
myConcat('. ', 'sage', 'basil', 'oregano', 'pepper', 'parsley');

Defining a function that creates HTML lists

This example defines a function that creates a string containing HTML for a list. The only formal argument for the function is a string that is "u" if the list is to be unordered (bulleted), or "o" if the list is to be ordered (numbered). The function is defined as follows:

function list(type) {
  var html = '<' + type + 'l><li>';
  var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1);
  html += args.join('</li><li>');
  html += '</li></' + type + 'l>'; // end list 
  return html; 
}

You can pass any number of arguments to this function, and it adds each argument as a list item to a list of the type indicated. For example:

let listHTML = list('u', 'One', 'Two', 'Three');

/* listHTML is:
"<ul><li>One</li><li>Two</li><li>Three</li></ul>"
*/

Rest, default, and destructured parameters

The arguments object can be used in conjunction with rest, default, and destructured parameters.

function foo(...args) {
  return args;
}
foo(1, 2, 3); // [1, 2, 3]

While the presence of rest, default, or destructured parameters does not alter the behavior of the arguments object in strict mode code, there are subtle differences for non-strict code.

In strict-mode code, the arguments object behaves the same whether or not a function is passed rest, default, or destructured parameters. That is, assigning new values to variables in the body of the function will not affect the arguments object. Nor will assigning new variables to the arguments object affect the value of variables.

Note: You cannot write a "use strict"; directive in the body of a function definition that accepts rest, default, or destructured parameters. Doing so will throw a syntax error.

Non-strict functions that are passed only simple parameters (that is, not rest, default, or restructured parameters) will sync the value of variables new values in the body of the function with the arguments object, and vice versa:

function func(a) {
  arguments[0] = 99; // updating arguments[0] also updates a
  console.log(a);
}
func(10); // 99

And also:

function func(a) {
  a = 99; // updating a also updates arguments[0]
  console.log(arguments[0]);
}
func(10); // 99

Conversely, non-strict functions that are passed rest, default, or destructured parameters will not sync new values assigned to argument variables in the function body with the arguments object. Instead, the arguments object in non-strict functions with complex parameters will always reflect the values passed to the function when the function was called (this is the same behavior as exhibited by all strict-mode functions, regardless of the type of variables they are passed):

function func(a = 55) {
  arguments[0] = 99; // updating arguments[0] does not also update a
  console.log(a);
}
func(10); // 10

And also:

function func(a = 55) {
  a = 99; // updating a does not also update arguments[0]
  console.log(arguments[0]);
}
func(10); // 10

And also:

// An untracked default parameter
function func(a = 55) {
  console.log(arguments[0]);
}
func(); // undefined

Specifications

Specification
ECMAScript (ECMA-262)
The definition of 'Arguments Exotic Objects' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobileServer
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung InternetNode.js
argumentsChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 3Opera Full support 3Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0nodejs Full support Yes
calleeChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 6Opera Full support 4Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0nodejs Full support Yes
lengthChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 4Opera Full support 4Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0nodejs Full support Yes
@@iteratorChrome Full support 52Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 46IE No support NoOpera Full support 39Safari Full support 9WebView Android Full support 52Chrome Android Full support 52Firefox Android Full support 46Opera Android Full support 41Safari iOS Full support 9Samsung Internet Android Full support 6.0nodejs Full support Yes

Legend

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See also