Closure in JavaScript

The ability to treat functions as values, combined with the fact that local bindings are re-created every time a function is called, brings up an inter­esting question. What happens to local bindings when the function call that created them is no longer active?

The following code shows an example of this. It defines a function, wrapValue, that creates a local binding. It then returns a function that accesses and returns this local binding.

function wrapValue(n) {

let local = n;

return () => local;


let wrapl = wrapValue(l);

let wrap2 = wrapValue(2);


// → 1


// → 2

This is allowed and works as you’d hope—both instances of the bind­ing can still be accessed. This situation is a good demonstration of the fact that local bindings are created anew for every call, and different calls can’t trample on one another’s local bindings.

This feature—being able to reference a specific instance of a local bind­ing in an enclosing scope—is called closure. A function that references bind­ings from local scopes around it is called a closure. This behavior not only frees you from having to worry about lifetimes of bindings but also makes it possible to use function values in some creative ways.

With a slight change, we can turn the previous example into a way to create functions that multiply by an arbitrary amount.

function multiplier(factor) {

return number => number * factor;


let twice = multiplier(2);


// → 10

The explicit local binding from the wrapValue example isn’t really needed since a parameter is itself a local binding.

Thinking about programs like this takes some practice. A good men­tal model is to think of function values as containing both the code in their body and the environment in which they are created. When called, the func­tion body sees the environment in which it was created, not the environment in which it is called.

In the example, multiplier is called and creates an environment in which its factor parameter is bound to 2. The function value it returns, which is stored in twice, remembers this environment. So when that is called, it multi­plies its argument by 2.

Source: Haverbeke Marijn (2018), Eloquent JavaScript: A Modern Introduction to Programming,

No Starch Press; 3rd edition.

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