Rest parameters

The rest parameter syntax allows a function to accept an indefinite number of arguments as an array, providing a way to represent variadic functions in JavaScript.

Syntax

function f(a, b, ...theArgs) {
  // ...
}

Description

A function definition's last parameter can be prefixed with "..." (three U+002E FULL STOP characters), which will cause all remaining (user supplied) parameters to be placed within a "standard" JavaScript array.. Only the last parameter in a function definition can be a rest parameter.

function myFun(a,  b, ...manyMoreArgs) {
  console.log("a", a)
  console.log("b", b)
  console.log("manyMoreArgs", manyMoreArgs)
}

myFun("one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six")

// Console Output:
// a, one
// b, two
// manyMoreArgs, ["three", "four", "five", "six"]

Quick reference

A function definition can have only one ...restParam.

foo(...one, ...wrong, ...wrong)

The rest parameter must be the last parameter in the function definition.

foo(...wrong, arg2, arg3)
foo(arg1, arg2, ...correct)

The difference between rest parameters and the arguments object

There are three main differences between rest parameters and the arguments object:

  • The arguments object is not a real array, while rest parameters are Array instances, meaning methods like sort, map, forEach or pop can be applied on it directly;
  • The arguments object has additional functionality specific to itself (like the callee property).
  • The ...restParam bundles all the extra parameters into a single array, therefore it does not contain any named argument defined before the ...restParam. Whereas the arguments object contains all of the parameters -- including all of the stuff in the ...restParam -- unbundled.

From arguments to an array

Rest parameters were introduced to reduce the boilerplate code that was commonly used for converting a set of arguments to an array.

// Before rest parameters, "arguments" could be converted to a normal array using:

function f(a, b) {

  let normalArray = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments)
  // -- or --
  let normalArray = [].slice.call(arguments)
  // -- or --
  let normalArray = Array.from(arguments)

  let first = normalArray.shift()  // OK, gives the first argument
  let first = arguments.shift()    // ERROR (arguments is not a normal array)
}

// Now, you can easily gain access to a normal array using a rest parameter

function f(...args) {
  let normalArray = args
  let first = normalArray.shift() // OK, gives the first argument
}

Examples

Using rest parameters

In this example, the first argument is mapped to a and the second to b, so these named arguments are used as normal.

However, the third argument, manyMoreArgs, will be an array that contains the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th ... nth — as many arguments that the user includes.

function myFun(a, b, ...manyMoreArgs) {
  console.log("a", a)
  console.log("b", b)
  console.log("manyMoreArgs", manyMoreArgs)
}

myFun("one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six")

// a, "one"
// b, "two"
// manyMoreArgs, ["three", "four", "five", "six"] <-- notice it's an array

Below, even though there is just one value, the last argument still gets put into an array.

// using the same function definition from example above

myFun("one", "two", "three")

// a, "one"
// b, "two"
// manyMoreArgs, ["three"] <-- notice it's an array, even though there's just one value

Below, the third argument isn't provided, but manyMoreArgs is still an array (albeit an empty one).

// using the same function definition from example above

myFun("one", "two")

// a, "one"
// b, "two"
// manyMoreArgs, [] <-- yip, still an array

Argument length

Since theArgs is an array, a count of its elements is given by the length property:

function fun1(...theArgs) {
  console.log(theArgs.length)
}

fun1()         // 0
fun1(5)        // 1
fun1(5, 6, 7)  // 3

Using rest parameters in combination with ordinary parameters

In the next example, a rest parameter is used to collect all parameters after the first parameter into an array. Each one of the parameter values collected into the array is then multiplied by the first parameter, and the array is returned:

function multiply(multiplier, ...theArgs) {
  return theArgs.map(element => {
    return multiplier * element
  })
}

let arr = multiply(2, 15, 25, 42)
console.log(arr)  // [30, 50, 84]

Rest parameters are real arrays; the arguments object is not.

Array methods can be used on rest parameters, but not on the arguments object:

function sortRestArgs(...theArgs) {
  let sortedArgs = theArgs.sort()
  return sortedArgs
}

console.log(sortRestArgs(5, 3, 7, 1)) // 1, 3, 5, 7

function sortArguments() {
  let sortedArgs = arguments.sort()
  return sortedArgs  // this will never happen
}

console.log(sortArguments(5, 3, 7, 1))
// throws a TypeError (arguments.sort is not a function)

To use Array methods on the arguments object, it must be converted to a real array first.

function sortArguments() {
  let args = Array.from(arguments)
  let sortedArgs = args.sort()
  return sortedArgs
}
console.log(sortArguments(5, 3, 7, 1))  // 1, 3, 5, 7

Specifications

Specification
ECMAScript Language Specification (ECMAScript)
# sec-function-definitions

Browser compatibility

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See also