The arguments object

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The prototype



How this works

Closures and references

The arguments object

Scopes and namespaces


Equality and comparisons


The Array constructor

The for in loop

The typeof operator

The instanceof operator

Type casting

undefined and null

Reasons against eval

setTimeout and setInterval

Automatic semicolon insertion

The arguments object

Every function scope in JavaScript can access the special variable arguments. This variable holds a list of all the arguments that were passed to the function.

Note: In case arguments has already been defined inside the function's scope either via a var statement or being the name of a formal parameter, the argumentsobject will not be created.

The arguments object is not an Array. While it has some of the semantics of an array - namely the length property - it does not inherit from Array.prototypeand is in fact an Object.

Due to this, it is not possible to use standard array methods like pushpop or slice on arguments. While iteration with a plain for loop works just fine, it is necessary to convert it to a real Array in order to use the standard Array methods on it.

Converting to an array

The code below will return a new Array containing all the elements of the arguments object.;

This conversion is slow, it is not recommended to use it in performance critical sections of code.

Passing arguments

The following is the recommended way of passing arguments from one function to another.

function foo() {
   bar.apply(null, arguments);
function bar(a, b, c) {
   // do stuff here

Another trick is to use both call and apply together to create fast, unbound wrappers.

function Foo() {}
Foo.prototype.method = function(a, b, c) {
   console.log(this, a, b, c);
// Create an unbound version of "method"
// It takes the parameters: this, arg1, arg2...argN
Foo.method = function() {
   // Result:, arg1, arg2... argN), arguments);

Formal parameters and arguments indexes

The arguments object creates getter and setter functions for both its properties as well as the function's formal parameters.

As a result, changing the value of a formal parameter will also change the value of the corresponding property on the arguments object, and the other way around.

function foo(a, b, c) {
   arguments[0] = 2;
   a; // 2
   b = 4;
   arguments[1]; // 4
   var d = c;
   d = 9;
   c; // 3
foo(1, 2, 3);

Performance myths and truths

The arguments object is always created with the only two exceptions being the cases where it is declared as a name inside of a function or one of its formal parameters. It does not matter whether it is used or not.

Both getters and setters are always created; thus, using it has nearly no performance impact at all, especially not in real world code where there is more than a simple access to the arguments object's properties.

ES5 Note: These getters and setters are not created in strict mode.

However, there is one case which will drastically reduce the performance in modern JavaScript engines. That case is the use of arguments.callee.

function foo() {
   arguments.callee; // do something with this function object
   arguments.callee.caller; // and the calling function object
function bigLoop() {
   for(var i = 0; i < 100000; i++) {
       foo(); // Would normally be inlined...

In the above code, foo can no longer be a subject to inlining since it needs to know about both itself and its caller. This not only defeats possible performance gains that would arise from inlining, it also breaks encapsulation since the function may now be dependent on a specific calling context.

It is highly recommended to never make use of arguments.callee or any of its properties.

ES5 Note: In strict mode, arguments.callee will throw a TypeError since its use has been deprecated.

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