Check if a JS Array Contains a Specific Value

Jul 8, 2019

Given a JavaScript array, there are two built-in array methods you can use to determine whether the array contains a given element. Suppose you have a simple array with 3 elements:

const arr = ['A', 'B', 'C'];

To determine whether arr contains the string 'B', you can use Array#includes() or Array#indexOf().


The Array#includes() function was introduced in ECMAScript 2016. It takes a parameter valueToFind, and returns true if some element in the array is equal to valueToFind.

const arr = ['A', 'B', 'C'];

arr.includes('B'); // true
arr.includes('D'); // false

The Array#includes() function checks for equality using the same semantics as the === operator (no type coercion), with the exception of NaN. The Array#includes() function will find NaN in an array. The technical term for this equality check is sameValueZero.

// Array contains 1 element, 'NaN'
const arr = [parseInt('foo')];

arr.includes(parseInt('foo')); // true
arr.includes(NaN); // true
arr.includes(Number.NaN); // true

// The `===` operator has some quirks with NaN. `Array#includes()`
// smooths out those rough edges.
arr[0] === NaN; // false
arr[0] === Number.NaN; // false


The Array#indexOf() function is a common alternative to includes(). The indexOf() function returns the first index in the array at which it found valueToFind, or -1 otherwise.

const arr = ['A', 'B', 'C'];

arr.indexOf('A'); // 0
arr.indexOf('B'); // 1
arr.indexOf('D'); // -1

// To check whether an array contains a given value, you should use the
// below check.
arr.indexOf('D') !== -1; // false

To check whether arr contains v, you would use arr.indexOf(v) !== -1. In some codebases, you may see ~arr.indexOf(v) instead, where ~ is the JavaScript bitwise NOT operator.

Given an integer v, ~v === -(v + 1), so ~v === 0 only if v === -1. This is a handy trick to avoid having to write out !== -1. However, using bitwise NOT is generally bad practice because it sacrifices readability to save 4 characters.

const arr = ['A', 'B', 'C'];

if (~arr.indexOf('A')) {
  // Runs
if (~arr.indexOf('D')) {
  // Does not run

Unlike Array#includes(), Array#indexOf() uses the same semantics as the === operator to check for equality. In other words, Array#indexOf() cannot find NaN in an array.

// Array contains 1 element, 'NaN'
const arr = [parseInt('foo')];

arr.indexOf(NaN); // -1
arr.indexOf(Number.NaN); // -1

Array#includes() is generally the better choice, because you don't need to type out !== -1 and because it has slightly better equality semantics. But since Array#includes() was introduced in ES2016, it is not supported in any version of Internet Explorer or Node.js versions before 6.0.0. If you use Array#includes(), make sure you add a polyfill for older browsers.

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