/this-vs-that GitHub 1316★

variable === undefined vs typeof variable === "undefined"

There are two common ways to check whether a variable is undefined. We can use the identical (===) or typeof operator:

variable === undefined;
typeof variable === 'undefined';


The typeof operator works with undeclared variables, while the identical operator will throw a ReferenceError exception.

typeof undeclaredVar === 'undefined'; // true
undeclaredVar === undefined; // throws a ReferenceError exception

Good to know

In the old browsers running ES3 enginee, undefined is a global variable name whose primitive value is undefined. The value can be changed:

// ES3
var person = {};
person.name === undefined; // true

// Let's modify the value of undefined
undefined = 'Foo';
person.name === undefined; // false

In order to avoid the issue where undefined can be renamed or modified the value, we can wrap the code in an IFFE (immediately invoked function expression) as following:

// It's safe to use undefined here

// Or

In the sample code above, undefined is a parameter of function. Since we don't pass any parameter or an undefined variable (_) to the function, the parameter will be undefined. This common pattern was used in popular libraries such as jQuery, Backbone, etc.

It's not the case in modern browsers nowadays. From ES5, undefined can't be changed because its Writable property is set to false.

Good practice

Always use typeof.

See also

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