How to check for “undefined” in JavaScript?

What is the most appropriate way to test if a variable is undefined in JavaScript? I've seen several possible ways:

if (window.myVariable)


if (typeof(myVariable) != "undefined")


if (myVariable) //This throws an error if undefined. Should this be in Try/Catch?


asked Jun 30, 2015 in JAVASCRIPT by rajesh
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1 Answer

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If you are interested in finding out whether a variable has been declared regardless of its value, then using the in operator is the safest way to go. Consider this example.

// global scope
var theFu; // theFu has been declared, but its value is undefined
typeof theFu; // "undefined"
But this may not be the intended result for some cases, since the variable or property was declared but just not initialized. Use the in operator for a more robust check.

"theFu" in window; // true
"theFoo" in window; // false
If you are interested in knowing whether the variable hasn't been declared or has the value undefined, then use the typeof operator.

if (typeof myVar != 'undefined')
The typeof operator is guaranteed to return a string. Direct comparisons against undefined are troublesome as undefined can be overwritten.

window.undefined = "omg";
"omg" == undefined // true
As @CMS pointed out, this has been patched in ECMAScript 5th ed., and undefined is non-writable.

if (window.myVar) will also include these falsy values, so it's not very robust:

Thanks to @CMS for pointing out that your third case - if (myVariable) can also throw an error in two cases. The first is when the variable hasn't been defined which throws a ReferenceError.

// abc was never declared.
if (abc) {
    // ReferenceError: abc is not defined
The other case is when the variable has been defined, but has a getter function which throws an error when invoked. For example,

// or it's a property that can throw an error
Object.defineProperty(window, "myVariable", {
    get: function() { throw new Error("W00t?"); },
    set: undefined
if (myVariable) {
    // Error: W00t?
answered Jun 30, 2015 by rajesh