How to check a not-defined variable in JavaScript


I wanted to check whether the variable is defined or not. For example, the following throws a not-defined error

alert( x );

How can I catch this error?

In JavaScript, null is an object. There's another value for things that don't exist, undefined. The DOM returns null for almost all cases where it fails to find some structure in the document, but in JavaScript itself undefined is the value used.

Second, no, there is not a direct equivalent. If you really want to check for specifically for null, do:

if (yourvar === null) // Does not execute if yourvar is `undefined`

If you want to check if a variable exists, that can only be done with try/catch, since typeof will treat an undeclared variable and a variable declared with the value of undefined as equivalent.

But, to check if a variable is declared and is not undefined:

if (typeof yourvar !== 'undefined') // Any scope

Beware, this is nonsense, because there could be a variable with name undefined:

if (yourvar !== undefined)

If you want to know if a member exists independent but don't care what its value is:

if ('membername' in object) // With inheritance
if (object.hasOwnProperty('membername')) // Without inheritance

If you want to to know whether a variable is truthy:

if (yourvar)

Source


The only way to truly test if a variable is undefined is to do the following. Remember, undefined is an object in JavaScript.

if (typeof someVar === 'undefined') {
  // Your variable is undefined
}

Some of the other solutions in this thread will lead you to believe a variable is undefined even though it has been defined (with a value of NULL or 0, for instance).


Technically, the proper solution is (I believe):

typeof x === "undefined"

You can sometimes get lazy and use

x == null

but that allows both an undefined variable x, and a variable x containing null, to return true.


An even easier and more shorthand version would be:

if (!x) {
   //Undefined
}

OR

if (typeof x !== "undefined") {
    //Do something since x is defined.
}

I've often done:

function doSomething(variable)
{
    var undef;

    if(variable === undef)
    {
         alert('Hey moron, define this bad boy.');
    }
}

You can also use the ternary conditional-operator:

var a = "hallo world";
var a = !a ? document.write("i dont know 'a'") : document.write("a = " + a);

//var a = "hallo world";
var a = !a ? document.write("i dont know 'a'") : document.write("a = " + a);


Another potential "solution" is to use the window object. It avoids the reference error problem when in a browser.

if (window.x) {
    alert('x exists and is truthy');
} else {
    alert('x does not exist, or exists and is falsy');
}

The error is telling you that x doesn’t even exist! It hasn’t been declared, which is different than being assigned a value.

var x; // declaration
x = 2; // assignment

If you declared x, you wouldn’t get an error. You would get an alert that says undefined because x exists/has been declared but hasn’t been assigned a value.

To check if the variable has been declared, you can use typeof, any other method of checking if a variable exists will raise the same error you got initially.

if(typeof x  !==  "undefined") {
    alert(x);
}

This is checking the type of the value stored in x. It will only return undefined when x hasn’t been declared OR if it has been declared and was not yet assigned.


I often use the simplest way:

var variable;
if (variable === undefined){
    console.log('Variable is undefined');
} else {
    console.log('Variable is defined');
}

EDIT:

Without initializing the variable, exception will be thrown "Uncaught ReferenceError: variable is not defined..."


The void operator returns undefined for any argument/expression passed to it. so you can test against the result (actually some minifiers change your code from undefined to void 0 to save a couple of characters)

For example:

void 0
// undefined

if (variable === void 0) {
    // variable is undefined
}

Just do something like below:

function isNotDefined(value) {
  return typeof value === "undefined";
}

and call it like:

isNotDefined(undefined); //return true
isNotDefined('Alireza'); //return false

We can check undefined as follows

var x; 

if (x === undefined) {
    alert("x is undefined");
} else {
     alert("x is defined");
}

The accepted answer is correct. Just wanted to add one more option. You also can use try ... catch block to handle this situation. A freaky example:

var a;
try {
    a = b + 1;  // throws ReferenceError if b is not defined
} 
catch (e) {
    a = 1;      // apply some default behavior in case of error
}
finally {
    a = a || 0; // normalize the result in any case
}

Be aware of catch block, which is a bit messy, as it creates a block-level scope. And, of course, the example is extremely simplified to answer the asked question, it does not cover best practices in error handling ;).


I use a small function to verify a variable has been declared, which really cuts down on the amount of clutter in my javascript files. I add a check for the value to make sure that the variable not only exists, but has also been assigned a value. The second condition checks whether the variable has also been instantiated, because if the variable has been defined but not instantiated (see example below), it will still throw an error if you try to reference it's value in your code.

Not instantiated - var my_variable; Instantiated - var my_variable = "";

function varExists(el) { 
  if ( typeof el !== "undefined" && typeof el.val() !== "undefined" ) { 
    return true; 
  } else { 
    return false; 
  } 
}

You can then use a conditional statement to test that the variable has been both defined AND instantiated like this...

if ( varExists(variable_name) ) { // checks that it DOES exist } 

or to test that it hasn't been defined and instantiated use...

if( !varExists(variable_name) ) { // checks that it DOESN'T exist }