The shift() method removes the first element from an array and returns that removed element. This method changes the length of the array.

Try it



Return value

The removed element from the array; undefined if the array is empty.


The shift() method removes the element at the zeroth index and shifts the values at consecutive indexes down, then returns the removed value. If the length property is 0, undefined is returned.

Array.prototype.pop() has similar behavior to shift(), but applied to the last element in an array.

The shift() method is a mutating method. It changes the length and the content of this. In case you want the value of this to be the same, but return a new array with the first element removed, you can use arr.slice(1) instead.

Array.prototype.shift() is intentionally generic; this method can be called or applied to objects resembling arrays. Objects which do not contain a length property reflecting the last in a series of consecutive, zero-based numerical properties may not behave in any meaningful manner.


Removing an element from an array

The following code displays the myFish array before and after removing its first element. It also displays the removed element:

const myFish = ['angel', 'clown', 'mandarin', 'surgeon'];

console.log('myFish before:', JSON.stringify(myFish));
// myFish before: ['angel', 'clown', 'mandarin', 'surgeon']

const shifted = myFish.shift();

console.log('myFish after:', myFish);
// myFish after: ['clown', 'mandarin', 'surgeon']

console.log('Removed this element:', shifted);
// Removed this element: angel

Using shift() method in while loop

The shift() method is often used in condition inside while loop. In the following example every iteration will remove the next element from an array, until it is empty:

const names = ["Andrew", "Edward", "Paul", "Chris" ,"John"];

while (typeof (i = names.shift()) !== 'undefined') {
// Andrew, Edward, Paul, Chris, John


ECMAScript Language Specification
# sec-array.prototype.shift

Browser compatibility

BCD tables only load in the browser

See also