The global NaN property is a value representing Not-A-Number.

Property attributes of NaN
Writable no
Enumerable no
Configurable no

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NaN is a property of the global object. In other words, it is a variable in global scope.

The initial value of NaN is Not-A-Number — the same as the value of Number.NaN. In modern browsers, NaN is a non-configurable, non-writable property. Even when this is not the case, avoid overriding it. It is rather rare to use NaN in a program.

There are five different types of operations that return NaN:

  • Number cannot be parsed (e.g. parseInt("blabla") or Number(undefined))
  • Math operation where the result is not a real number (e.g. Math.sqrt(-1))
  • Operand of an argument is NaN (e.g. 7 ** NaN)
  • Indeterminate form (e.g. 0 * Infinity, or undefined + undefined)
  • Any operation that involves a string and is not an addition operation (e.g. "foo" / 3)


Testing against NaN

NaN compares unequal (via ==, !=, ===, and !==) to any other value — including to another NaN value. Use Number.isNaN() or isNaN() to most clearly determine whether a value is NaN. Or perform a self-comparison: NaN, and only NaN, will compare unequal to itself.

NaN === NaN;        // false
Number.NaN === NaN; // false
isNaN(NaN);         // true
isNaN(Number.NaN);  // true
Number.isNaN(NaN);  // true

function valueIsNaN(v) { return v !== v; }
valueIsNaN(1);          // false
valueIsNaN(NaN);        // true
valueIsNaN(Number.NaN); // true

However, do note the difference between isNaN() and Number.isNaN(): the former will return true if the value is currently NaN, or if it is going to be NaN after it is coerced to a number, while the latter will return true only if the value is currently NaN:

isNaN('hello world');        // true
Number.isNaN('hello world'); // false

For the same reason, using a bigint value will throw an error with isNaN() and not with Number.isNaN():

isNaN(1n);        // TypeError: Conversion from 'BigInt' to 'number' is not allowed.
Number.isNaN(1n); // false

Additionally, some array methods cannot find NaN, while others can.

const arr = [2, 4, NaN, 12];
arr.indexOf(NaN);                      // -1 (false)
arr.includes(NaN);                     // true
arr.findIndex((n) => Number.isNaN(n));   // 2


ECMAScript Language Specification
# sec-value-properties-of-the-global-object-nan

Browser compatibility

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See also