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Brian Barbour
Brian Barbour

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Hoisting in JS: The Quick and Dirty

Before reading this, check out: Var and Function Scope

console.log(hoistAndRun()) // returns 'also hoisted and can be ran'
console.log(hoistMe) // returns undefined

var hoistMe = 'hoisted, but undefined'

function hoistAndRun() {
  return 'also hoisted and can be ran'
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The first thing to understand about hoisting is that it's a feature of Javascript. (I think some other languages have it too, like Python, but not all use it.) You'll see a lot of people explain it as variables (declared with var) and functions (using the function keyword) being "lifted" to the top of the code.

That's not accurate. Javascript doesn't do that, at least not physically. It's more of an analogy or conceptual way of thinking of it. Instead, Javascript creates space in memory for the variables and functions. Think of it as the programming equivalent of making a dinner reservation.

Hoisted var variables will return undefined. Because, you haven't assigned them a value (until you actually do with =). Functions can be ran immediately, because they are fully placed in memory before the code is ran.

Function expressions using var are are hoisted, but cannot be called right away.

console.log(hoistAndRunAgain()) // TypeError: hoistAndRunAgain is not a function

var hoistAndRunAgain = function() {
  return 'hoisted, but undefined as well'
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Variables and function expressions assigned with const and let are not hoisted, as they use block scope.

console.log(hoistConstant) // ReferenceError: hoistContant is not defined
console.log(hoistLet) //ReferenceError: hoistLet is not defined

const hoistConstant = 'not hoisted'
let hoistLet = 'not hoisted'
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That's the quick and dirty of hoisting as I understand it. There is probably more nuance and detail that could be provided about hoisting, but hopefully this is enough to get you started, or at least to jog your memory.

Latest comments (1)

georgecoldham profile image
George • Edited

What really helped me understand