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How to shuffle an array with vanilla JS

While languages like PHP and Ruby have built in methods for shuffling arrays, JavaScript does not.

The most commonly recommended solution for this is to use the Fisher-Yates (or Knuth) Shuffle algorithm:

The Fisher–Yates shuffle is an algorithm for generating a random permutation of a finite sequence—in plain terms, the algorithm shuffles the sequence. The algorithm effectively puts all the elements into a hat; it continually determines the next element by randomly drawing an element from the hat until no elements remain. The algorithm produces an unbiased permutation: every permutation is equally likely. The modern version of the algorithm is efficient: it takes time proportional to the number of items being shuffled and shuffles them in place.

The Fisher–Yates shuffle is named after Ronald Fisher and Frank Yates, who first described it, and is also known as the Knuth shuffle after Donald Knuth.

Here’s a helper function that uses the Fisher-Yates algorithm.

 * Randomly shuffle an array
 * @param  {Array} array The array to shuffle
 * @return {String}      The first item in the shuffled array
var shuffle = function (array) {

	var currentIndex = array.length;
	var temporaryValue, randomIndex;

	// While there remain elements to shuffle...
	while (0 !== currentIndex) {
		// Pick a remaining element...
		randomIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * currentIndex);
		currentIndex -= 1;

		// And swap it with the current element.
		temporaryValue = array[currentIndex];
		array[currentIndex] = array[randomIndex];
		array[randomIndex] = temporaryValue;

	return array;


This will shuffle the original array. It does not return a copy.

If you want to keep the original unshuffled, use Array.slice() to pass in a copy.

var lunch = ['sandwich', 'soda', 'chips', 'cookie'];

// Shuffle lunch

// Create a new, shuffled array from lunch
var shuffledLunch = shuffle(lunch.slice());