What is Hoisting in JavaScript? A Comprehensive Guide

What is Hoisting in JavaScript? A Comprehensive Guide

JavaScript is a fascinating language full of concepts that can sometimes leave you scratching your head. One such concept is hoisting. Getting a good grasp of hoisting is essential for writing clean and bug-free JavaScript code.

In this blog, we'll explore what hoisting is, how it affects variables and functions, and break down the differences between var, let, and const. We'll also dive into the Temporal Dead Zone (TDZ) and throw in some brain-stressing code snippets to help cement your understanding. Ready to dive in? Let's go!

What is Hoisting in JavaScript?

So, what exactly is hoisting? In JavaScript, hoisting is the behavior where variable and function declarations are moved to the top of their containing scope during the compile phase.

This means you can use variables and functions before you actually declare them in your code. Sounds a bit magical, right? But as with all magic, there are some quirks to be aware of.

Definition of Hoisting in JavaScript

To put it simply, hoisting is JavaScript's way of preparing the code by moving all variable and function declarations to the top of the current scope (whether that's a script or a function) during the compile phase. It’s important to note that only the declarations are moved, not the actual assignments.

Difference Between let, var, and const in JavaScript

Understanding var in JavaScript

var is function-scoped or globally-scoped if declared outside a function. Thanks to hoisting, var declarations are moved to the top of their scope, but their assignments are not. This can lead to some interesting (and sometimes confusing) behavior.

console.log(a); // undefined
var a = 10;
console.log(a); // 10

In the example above, the declaration var a is hoisted to the top, but the assignment a = 10 is not. So, the first console.log(a) outputs undefined.

Understanding let and const in JavaScript

let and const are a bit different. They are block-scoped and also hoisted, but they are not initialized during the hoisting process. This means you can't access them before their declaration, thanks to the Temporal Dead Zone (TDZ).

console.log(b); // ReferenceError: Cannot access 'b' before initialization
let b = 20;
console.log(b); // 20

console.log(c); // ReferenceError: Cannot access 'c' before initialization
const c = 30;
console.log(c); // 30

In the snippets above, trying to access b and c before their declarations result in a ReferenceError because they are in the TDZ.

Function Hoisting in JavaScript

Functions declared using the function declaration syntax are fully hoisted. This means you can call the function even before you've written it in your code.

sayHello(); // Hello, World!

function sayHello() {
    console.log('Hello, World!');

Pretty cool, right? However, function expressions (both regular and arrow functions) don’t enjoy the same treatment.

sayHi(); // TypeError: sayHi is not a function

var sayHi = function() {
    console.log('Hi, World!');

Here, you get a TypeError because sayHi is treated like a variable, and its declaration is hoisted but not its assignment.

What is the Temporal Dead Zone (TDZ) in JavaScript?

The Temporal Dead Zone (TDZ) is the period from the start of the block until the variable is declared. Accessing a variable in the TDZ results in a ReferenceError. This behavior applies to variables declared with let and const.

    console.log(x); // ReferenceError: Cannot access 'x' before initialization
    let x = 100;
    console.log(x); // 100

In this example, x is in the TDZ from the beginning of the block until let x = 100 is executed.

JavaScript Hoisting Examples: Brain-Stressing Code Snippets

Let's put your hoisting knowledge to the test with some tricky snippets:

Hoisting with var

console.log(foo); // undefined
var foo = 'bar';
console.log(foo); // 'bar'

Hoisting with let

console.log(baz); // ReferenceError: Cannot access 'baz' before initialization
let baz = 'qux';
console.log(baz); // 'qux'

Hoisting with Function Declarations

hoistMe(); // 'Hoisted!'

function hoistMe() {

hoistMe(); // 'Hoisted!'

Hoisting with Function Expressions

hoistMeToo(); // TypeError: hoistMeToo is not a function

var hoistMeToo = function() {
    console.log('Not Hoisted!');

hoistMeToo(); // 'Not Hoisted!'

Hoisting in Loops with var and let

for (var i = 0; i < 3; i++) {
    setTimeout(function() {
        console.log('var loop:', i);
    }, 1000);
// var loop: 3 (three times)

for (let j = 0; j < 3; j++) {
    setTimeout(function() {
        console.log('let loop:', j);
    }, 1000);
// let loop: 0
// let loop: 1
// let loop: 2

Key Takeaways on JavaScript Hoisting

  • Hoisting: JavaScript hoists declarations (not initializations) of variables and functions to the top of their scope.

  • var: Function-scoped and hoisted with initialization to undefined.

  • let and const: Block-scoped and hoisted without initialization, causing a Temporal Dead Zone.

  • Function Declarations: Fully hoisted, allowing calls before declarations.

  • Function Expressions: Not hoisted the same way, leading to errors if called before declaration.

Understanding hoisting and its quirks helps you write more predictable and error-free code. Practice with the provided code snippets to reinforce your knowledge and master this fundamental JavaScript concept. Happy coding!

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