es6 w3school - What is the preferred syntax for defining enums in JavaScript?

15 Answers

This isn't much of an answer, but I'd say that works just fine, personally

Having said that, since it doesn't matter what the values are (you've used 0, 1, 2), I'd use a meaningful string in case you ever wanted to output the current value.

string to node

What is the preferred syntax for defining enums in JavaScript? Something like:

my.namespace.ColorEnum = {
    RED : 0,
    GREEN : 1,
    BLUE : 2

// later on

if(currentColor == my.namespace.ColorEnum.RED) {
   // whatever

Or is there a more preferable idiom?

Bottom line: You can't.

You can fake it, but you won't get type safety. Typically this is done by creating a simple dictionary of string values mapped to integer values. For example:

var DaysEnum = {"monday":1, "tuesday":2, "wednesday":3, ...}

Document.Write("Enumerant: " + DaysEnum.tuesday);

The problem with this approach? You can accidentally redefine your enumerant, or accidentally have duplicate enumerant values. For example:

DaysEnum.monday = 4; // whoops, monday is now thursday, too


What about Artur Czajka's Object.freeze? Wouldn't that work to prevent you from setting monday to thursday? – Fry Quad

Absolutely, Object.freeze would totally fix the problem I complained about. I would like to remind everyone that when I wrote the above, Object.freeze didn't really exist.

Now.... now it opens up some very interesting possibilities.

Edit 2
Here's a very good library for creating enums.

While it probably doesn't fit every valid use of enums, it goes a very long way.

In most modern browsers, there is a symbol primitive data type which can be used to create an enumeration. It will ensure type safety of the enum as each symbol value is guaranteed by JavaScript to be unique, i.e. Symbol() != Symbol(). For example:

const COLOR = Object.freeze({RED: Symbol(), BLUE: Symbol()});

To simplify debugging, you can add a description to enum values:

const COLOR = Object.freeze({RED: Symbol("RED"), BLUE: Symbol("BLUE")});

Plunker demo

On GitHub you can find a wrapper that simplifies the code required to initialize the enum:

const color = new Enum("RED", "BLUE")

color.RED.toString() // Symbol(RED)
color.getName(color.RED) // RED
color.size // 2
color.values() // Symbol(RED), Symbol(BLUE)
color.toString() // RED,BLUE

This is an old one I know, but the way it has since been implemented via the TypeScript interface is:

var MyEnum;
(function (MyEnum) {
    MyEnum[MyEnum["Foo"] = 0] = "Foo";
    MyEnum[MyEnum["FooBar"] = 2] = "FooBar";
    MyEnum[MyEnum["Bar"] = 1] = "Bar";
})(MyEnum|| (MyEnum= {}));

This enables you to look up on both MyEnum.Bar which returns 1, and MyEnum[1] which returns "Bar" regardless of the order of declaration.

In ES7 , you can do an elegant ENUM relying on static attributes:

class ColorEnum  {
    static RED = 0 ;
    static GREEN = 1;
    static BLUE = 2;


if (currentColor === ColorEnum.GREEN ) {/*-- coding --*/}

The advantage ( of using class instead of literal object) is to have a parent class Enum then all your Enums will extends that class.

 class ColorEnum  extends Enum {/*....*/}

Create an object literal:

const Modes = {
  DRAGGING: 'drag',
  SCALING:  'scale',
  CLICKED:  'click'

Use Javascript Proxies

TLDR: Add this class to your utility methods and use it throughout your code, it mocks Enum behavior from traditional programming languages, and actually throws errors when you try to access an enumerator that does not exist.

class Enum {
  constructor(enumObj) {
    const handler = {
      get(target, name) {
        if (target[name]) {
          return target[name];
        throw new Error(`No such enumerator: ${name}`);

    return new Proxy(Object.freeze(enumObj), handler);

Then create enums by instantiating the class:

const roles = new Enum({
  ADMIN: 'Admin',
  USER: 'User',

Full Explanation:

One very beneficial feature of Enums that you get from traditional languages is that they blow up (throw a compile-time error) if you try to access an enumerator which does not exist.

Besides freezing the mocked enum structure to prevent additional values from accidentally/maliciously being added, none of the other answers address that intrinsic feature of Enums.

As you are probably aware, accessing non-existing members in JavaScript simply returns undefined and does not blow up your code. Since enumerators are predefined constants (i.e. days of the week), there should never be a case when an enumerator should be undefined.

Don't get me wrong, JavaScript's behavior of returning undefined when accessing undefined properties is actually a very powerful feature of language, but it's not a feature you want when you are trying to mock traditional Enum structures.

This is where Proxy objects shine. Proxies were standardized in the language with the introduction of ES6 (ES2015). Here's the description from MDN:

The Proxy object is used to define custom behavior for fundamental operations (e.g. property lookup, assignment, enumeration, function invocation, etc).

Similar to a web server proxy, JavaScript proxies are able to intercept operations on objects (with the use of "traps", call them hooks if you like) and allow you to perform various checks, actions and/or manipulations before they complete (or in some cases stopping the operations altogether which is exactly what we want to do if and when we try to reference an enumerator which does not exist).

Here's a contrived example that uses the Proxy object to mimic Enums. The enumerators in this example are standard HTTP Methods (i.e. "GET", "POST", etc.):

// Class for creating enums (13 lines)
// Feel free to add this to your utility library in 
// your codebase and profit! Note: As Proxies are an ES6 
// feature, some browsers/clients may not support it and 
// you may need to transpile using a service like babel

class Enum(enumObj) {
  // The Enum class instantiates a JavaScript Proxy object.
  // Instantiating a `Proxy` object requires two parameters, 
  // a `target` object and a `handler`. We first define the handler,
  // then use the handler to instantiate a Proxy.

  // A proxy handler is simply an object whose properties
  // are functions which define the behavior of the proxy 
  // when an operation is performed on it. For enums, we 
  // need to define behavior that lets us check what enumerator
  // is being accessed. This can be done by defining the "get" trap.
  const handler = {
    get: function(target, name) {
      if (target[name]) {
        return target[name]
      throw new Error(`No such enumerator: ${name}`)
  // Freeze the target object to prevent modifications
  return new Proxy(Object.freeze(enumObj), handler)

// Now that we have a generic way of creating Enums, lets create our first Enum!
const httpMethods = createEnum({
  GET: "GET",
  PUT: "PUT"

// Sanity checks
// logs "DELETE"

httpMethods.delete = "delete" 
// no effect due to Object.freeze, fails silently (no error thrown)

try {
} catch (e) {
  console.log("Error: ", e.message)
// throws an error "Uncaught Error: No such enumerator: delete"

ASIDE: What the heck is a proxy?

I remember when I first started seeing the word proxy everywhere, it definitely didn't make sense to me for a long time. If that's you right now, I think an easy way to generalize proxies is to think of them as software, institutions, or even people that act as intermediaries or middlemen between two servers, companies, or people.

I've modified the solution of Andre 'Fi':

  function Enum() {
    var that = this;
    for (var i in arguments) {
        that[arguments[i]] = i;
    } = function(value) {
        for (var key in that) {
            if (that[key] == value) {
                return key;
    this.exist = function(value) {
        return (typeof !== "undefined");
    if (Object.freeze) {


var Color = new Enum('RED', 'GREEN', 'BLUE');

I've made an Enum class that can fetch values AND names at O(1). It can also generate an Object Array containing all Names and Values.

function Enum(obj) {
    // Names must be unique, Values do not.
    // Putting same values for different Names is risky for this implementation

    this._reserved = {
        _namesObj: {},
        _objArr: [],
        _namesArr: [],
        _valuesArr: [],
        _selectOptionsHTML: ""

    for (k in obj) {
        if (obj.hasOwnProperty(k)) {
            this[k] = obj[k];
            this._reserved._namesObj[obj[k]] = k;
(function () {
    this.GetName = function (val) {
        if (typeof this._reserved._namesObj[val] === "undefined")
            return null;
        return this._reserved._namesObj[val];

    this.GetValue = function (name) {
        if (typeof this[name] === "undefined")
            return null;
        return this[name];

    this.GetObjArr = function () {
        if (this._reserved._objArr.length == 0) {
            var arr = [];
            for (k in this) {
                if (this.hasOwnProperty(k))
                    if (k != "_reserved")
                            Name: k,
                            Value: this[k]
            this._reserved._objArr = arr;
        return this._reserved._objArr;

    this.GetNamesArr = function () {
        if (this._reserved._namesArr.length == 0) {
            var arr = [];
            for (k in this) {
                if (this.hasOwnProperty(k))
                    if (k != "_reserved")
            this._reserved._namesArr = arr;
        return this._reserved._namesArr;

    this.GetValuesArr = function () {
        if (this._reserved._valuesArr.length == 0) {
            var arr = [];
            for (k in this) {
                if (this.hasOwnProperty(k))
                    if (k != "_reserved")
            this._reserved._valuesArr = arr;
        return this._reserved._valuesArr;

    this.GetSelectOptionsHTML = function () {
        if (this._reserved._selectOptionsHTML.length == 0) {
            var html = "";
            for (k in this) {
                if (this.hasOwnProperty(k))
                    if (k != "_reserved")
                        html += "<option value='" + this[k] + "'>" + k + "</option>";
            this._reserved._selectOptionsHTML = html;
        return this._reserved._selectOptionsHTML;

You can init'd it like this:

var enum1 = new Enum({
    item1: 0,
    item2: 1,
    item3: 2

To fetch a value (like Enums in C#):

var val2 = enum1.item2;

To fetch a name for a value (can be ambiguous when putting the same value for different names):

var name1 = enum1.GetName(0);  // "item1"

To get an array with each name & value in an object:

var arr = enum1.GetObjArr();

Will generate:

[{ Name: "item1", Value: 0}, { ... }, ... ]

You can also get the html select options readily:

var html = enum1.GetSelectOptionsHTML();

Which holds:

"<option value='0'>item1</option>..."

Here's a couple different ways to implement TypeScript enums.

The easiest way is to just iterate over an object, adding inverted key-value pairs to the object. The only drawback is that you must manually set the value for each member.

function _enum(list) {       
  for (var key in list) {
    list[list[key] = list[key]] = key;
  return Object.freeze(list);

var Color = _enum({
  Red: 0,
  Green: 5,
  Blue: 2

// Color → {0: "Red", 2: "Blue", 5: "Green", "Red": 0, "Green": 5, "Blue": 2}
// Color.Red → 0
// Color.Green → 5
// Color.Blue → 2
// Color[5] → Green
// Color.Blue > Color.Green → false

And here's a lodash mixin to create an enum using a string. While this version is a little bit more involved, it does the numbering automatically for you. All the lodash methods used in this example have a regular JavaScript equivalent, so you can easily switch them out if you want.

function enum() {
    var key, val = -1, list = {};
    _.reduce(_.toArray(arguments), function(result, kvp) {    
        kvp = kvp.split("=");
        key = _.trim(kvp[0]);
        val = _.parseInt(kvp[1]) || ++val;            
        result[result[val] = key] = val;
        return result;
    }, list);
    return Object.freeze(list);

// Add enum to lodash 
_.mixin({ "enum": enum });

var Color = _.enum(
    "Blue = 5",
    "Purple = 20",

// Color.Red → 0
// Color.Green → 1
// Color.Blue → 5
// Color.Yellow → 6
// Color.Purple → 20
// Color.Gray → 21
// Color[5] → Blue

I came up with this approach which is modeled after enums in Java. These are type-safe, and so you can perform instanceof checks as well.

You can define enums like this:

var Days = Enum.define("Days", ["Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday", "Friday", "Saturday", "Sunday"]);

Days now refers to the Days enum:

Days.Monday instanceof Days; // true; // "Friday"
Days.Friday.ordinal(); // 4

Days.Sunday === Days.Sunday; // true
Days.Sunday === Days.Friday; // false

Days.Sunday.toString(); // "Sunday"

Days.toString() // "Days { Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday } "

Days.values().map(function(e) { return; }); //["Monday", "Tuesday", "Wednesday", "Thursday", "Friday", "Saturday", "Sunday"]
Days.values()[4].name(); //"Friday"

Days.fromName("Thursday") === Days.Thursday // true
Days.fromName("Wednesday").name() // "Wednesday"
Days.Friday.fromName("Saturday").name() // "Saturday"

The implementation:

var Enum = (function () {
     * Function to define an enum
     * @param typeName - The name of the enum.
     * @param constants - The constants on the enum. Can be an array of strings, or an object where each key is an enum
     * constant, and the values are objects that describe attributes that can be attached to the associated constant.
    function define(typeName, constants) {

        /** Check Arguments **/
        if (typeof typeName === "undefined") {
            throw new TypeError("A name is required.");

        if (!(constants instanceof Array) && (Object.getPrototypeOf(constants) !== Object.prototype)) {

            throw new TypeError("The constants parameter must either be an array or an object.");

        } else if ((constants instanceof Array) && constants.length === 0) {

            throw new TypeError("Need to provide at least one constant.");

        } else if ((constants instanceof Array) && !constants.reduce(function (isString, element) {
                return isString && (typeof element === "string");
            }, true)) {

            throw new TypeError("One or more elements in the constant array is not a string.");

        } else if (Object.getPrototypeOf(constants) === Object.prototype && !Object.keys(constants).reduce(function (isObject, constant) {
                return Object.getPrototypeOf(constants[constant]) === Object.prototype;
            }, true)) {

            throw new TypeError("One or more constants do not have an associated object-value.");


        var isArray = (constants instanceof Array);
        var isObject = !isArray;

        /** Private sentinel-object used to guard enum constructor so that no one else can create enum instances **/
        function __() { };

        /** Dynamically define a function with the same name as the enum we want to define. **/
        var __enum = new Function(["__"],
            "return function " + typeName + "(sentinel, name, ordinal) {" +
                "if(!(sentinel instanceof __)) {" +
                    "throw new TypeError(\"Cannot instantiate an instance of " + typeName + ".\");" +
                "}" +

                "this.__name = name;" +
                "this.__ordinal = ordinal;" +

        /** Private objects used to maintain enum instances for values(), and to look up enum instances for fromName() **/
        var __values = [];
        var __dict = {};

        /** Attach values() and fromName() methods to the class itself (kind of like static methods). **/
        Object.defineProperty(__enum, "values", {
            value: function () {
                return __values;

        Object.defineProperty(__enum, "fromName", {
            value: function (name) {
                var __constant = __dict[name]
                if (__constant) {
                    return __constant;
                } else {
                    throw new TypeError(typeName + " does not have a constant with name " + name + ".");

         * The following methods are available to all instances of the enum. values() and fromName() need to be
         * available to each constant, and so we will attach them on the prototype. But really, they're just
         * aliases to their counterparts on the prototype.
        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "values", {
            value: __enum.values

        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "fromName", {
            value: __enum.fromName

        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "name", {
            value: function () {
                return this.__name;

        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "ordinal", {
            value: function () {
                return this.__ordinal;

        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "valueOf", {
            value: function () {
                return this.__name;

        Object.defineProperty(__enum.prototype, "toString", {
            value: function () {
                return this.__name;

         * If constants was an array, we can the element values directly. Otherwise, we will have to use the keys
         * from the constants object.
        var _constants = constants;
        if (isObject) {
            _constants = Object.keys(constants);

        /** Iterate over all constants, create an instance of our enum for each one, and attach it to the enum type **/
        _constants.forEach(function (name, ordinal) {
            // Create an instance of the enum
            var __constant = new __enum(new __(), name, ordinal);

            // If constants was an object, we want to attach the provided attributes to the instance.
            if (isObject) {
                Object.keys(constants[name]).forEach(function (attr) {
                    Object.defineProperty(__constant, attr, {
                        value: constants[name][attr]

            // Freeze the instance so that it cannot be modified.

            // Attach the instance using the provided name to the enum type itself.
            Object.defineProperty(__enum, name, {
                value: __constant

            // Update our private objects
            __dict[name] = __constant;

        /** Define a friendly toString method for the enum **/
        var string = typeName + " { " + __enum.values().map(function (c) {
            }).join(", ") + " } ";

        Object.defineProperty(__enum, "toString", {
            value: function () {
                return string;

        /** Freeze our private objects **/

        /** Freeze the prototype on the enum and the enum itself **/

        /** Return the enum **/
        return __enum;

    return {
        define: define


As of writing, October 2014 - so here is a contemporary solution. Am writing the solution as a Node Module, and have included a test using Mocha and Chai, as well as underscoreJS. You can easily ignore these, and just take the Enum code if preferred.

Seen a lot of posts with overly convoluted libraries etc. The solution to getting enum support in Javascript is so simple it really isn't needed. Here is the code:

File: enums.js

_ = require('underscore');

var _Enum = function () {

   var keys =, function (value) {
      return value;
   var self = {
      keys: keys
   for (var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++) {
      self[keys[i]] = i;
   return self;

var fileFormatEnum = Object.freeze(_Enum('CSV', 'TSV'));
var encodingEnum = Object.freeze(_Enum('UTF8', 'SHIFT_JIS'));

exports.fileFormatEnum = fileFormatEnum;
exports.encodingEnum = encodingEnum;

And a test to illustrate what it gives you:

file: enumsSpec.js

var chai = require("chai"),
    assert = chai.assert,
    expect = chai.expect,
    should = chai.should(),
    enums = require('./enums'),
    _ = require('underscore');

describe('enums', function () {

    describe('fileFormatEnum', function () {
        it('should return expected fileFormat enum declarations', function () {
            var fileFormatEnum = enums.fileFormatEnum;
            assert('{"keys":["CSV","TSV"],"CSV":0,"TSV":1}' === JSON.stringify(fileFormatEnum), 'Unexpected format');
            assert('["CSV","TSV"]' === JSON.stringify(fileFormatEnum.keys), 'Unexpected keys format');

    describe('encodingEnum', function () {
        it('should return expected encoding enum declarations', function () {
            var encodingEnum = enums.encodingEnum;
            assert('{"keys":["UTF8","SHIFT_JIS"],"UTF8":0,"SHIFT_JIS":1}' === JSON.stringify(encodingEnum), 'Unexpected format');
            assert('["UTF8","SHIFT_JIS"]' === JSON.stringify(encodingEnum.keys), 'Unexpected keys format');


As you can see, you get an Enum factory, you can get all the keys simply by calling enum.keys, and you can match the keys themselves to integer constants. And you can reuse the factory with different values, and export those generated Enums using Node's modular approach.

Once again, if you are just a casual user, or in the browser etc, just take the factory part of the code, potentially removing underscore library too if you don't wish to use it in your code.

You can do something like this

function Enum(){

Enum.prototype.add = function(){
  for (var i in arguments) {
    this[arguments[i]] = new String(arguments[i]);
Enum.prototype.toList = function(){
  return Object.keys(this)

var STATUS = new Enum("CLOSED","PENDING");

var STATE = new Enum("CLOSED","PENDING");

STATE.CLOSED === "CLOSED"  // false;
STATE.CLOSED.toString() === "CLOSED"  // true;

As defined in this library.

This is how Typescript translates it's enum into Javascript:

var makeEnum = function(obj) {
    obj[ obj['Active'] = 1 ] = 'Active';
    obj[ obj['Closed'] = 2 ] = 'Closed';
    obj[ obj['Deleted'] = 3 ] = 'Deleted';


makeEnum( NewObj = {} )
// => {1: "Active", 2: "Closed", 3: "Deleted", Active: 1, Closed: 2, Deleted: 3}

At first I was confused why obj[1] returns 'Active', but then realised that its dead simple - Assignment operator assigns value and then returns it:

obj['foo'] = 1
// => 1

It's easy to use, I think. https://.com/a/32245370/4365315

var A = {a:11, b:22}, 
enumA = new TypeHelper(A);

if(enumA.Value === A.b || enumA.Key === "a"){ 

var keys = enumA.getAsList();//[object, object]

enumA.setType(22, false);//setType(val, isKey)

enumA.setType("a", true);



There is my helper codes(TypeHelper).