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Getting an array of all arguments passed into a function with vanilla JavaScript

Let’s say you had a function that added two numbers together.

var add = function (num1, num2) {
    return num1 + num2;

// Returns 7
add(3, 4);

What if you wanted to add more than two numbers? You could add a bunch of arguments to accommodate more numbers.

var add = function (num1, num2, num3, num4, num5) {
    return num1 + num2 + num3 + num4 + num5;

That gets unwieldy fast, though. What if you only need to add two numbers? Or three?

What you want is a way to dynamically get all of the arguments passed into a function. Fortunately, JavaScript provides a nice, native way to do that.


Within any function, you can use the arguments variable to get an array-like list of all of the arguments passed into the function.

You don’t need to define it ahead of time. It’s a native JavaScript object. You can access specific arguments by calling their index.

var add = function (num1, num2) {

	// returns the value of `num1`

	// returns the value of `num2`

	// ...


Or, you can use a basic for loop to loop through every argument that was passed in. You don’t even need to assign them a name.

var add = function () {

	// Set a starting total
	var total = 0;

	// Add each number to the total
	for (var i = 0; i < arguments.length; i++) {
		total += arguments[i];

	// Return to the total
	return total;


Psst… This post was adapted from my latest vanilla JS pocket guide, “Variables, Functions, and Scope.”