Checking if an array key exists in a JavaScript object or array?

How do I check if a particular key exists in a JavaScript object or array?

If a key doesn't exist and I try to access it, will it return false? Or throw an error?

asked Jun 30, 2015 in JAVASCRIPT by rajesh
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2 Answers

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Actually, checking for undefined-ness is not an accurate way of testing whether a key exists. What if the key exists but the value is actually undefined?

var obj = { key: undefined };
obj["key"] != undefined // false, but the key exists!

You should instead use the in operator:

"key" in obj // true, regardless of the actual value

If you want to check if a key doesn't exist, remember to use parenthesis:

!("key" in obj) // true if "key" doesn't exist in object
!"key" in obj   // ERROR!  Equivalent to "false in obj"

Or, if you want to particularly test for properties of the object instance (and not inherited properties), use hasOwnProperty:

obj.hasOwnProperty("key") // true
answered Jun 30, 2015 by rajesh
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It will return undefined.

var aa = {hello: "world"};
alert( aa["hello"] );      // popup box with "world"
alert( aa["goodbye"] );    // popup boc with "undefined"

undefined is a special constant value. So you can say, e.g.

// note the three equal signs so that null won't be equal to undefined
if( aa["goodbye"] === undefined ) {
    // do something

This is probably the best way to check for missing keys. However, as is pointed out in a comment below, it's theoretically possible that you'd want to have the actual value be undefined. I've never needed to do this and can't think of a reason offhand why I'd ever want to, but just for the sake of completeness, you can use the in operator

// this works even if you have {"goodbye": undefined}
if( "goodbye" in aa ) {
    // do something
answered Jun 30, 2015 by rajesh