The isNaN() function determines whether a value is NaN or not. Note, coercion inside the isNaN function has interesting rules; you may alternatively want to use Number.isNaN(), as defined in ECMAScript 2015.




The value to be tested.

Return value

true if the given value is NaN; otherwise, false.


The necessity of an isNaN function

Unlike all other possible values in JavaScript, it is not possible to rely on the equality operators (== and ===) to determine whether a value is NaN or not, because both NaN == NaN and NaN === NaN evaluate to false. Hence, the necessity of an isNaN function.

Origin of NaN values

NaN values are generated when arithmetic operations result in undefined or unrepresentable values. Such values do not necessarily represent overflow conditions. A NaN also results from attempted coercion to numeric values of non-numeric values for which no primitive numeric value is available.

For example, dividing zero by zero results in a NaN — but dividing other numbers by zero does not.

Confusing special-case behavior

Since the very earliest versions of the isNaN function specification, its behavior for non-numeric arguments has been confusing. When the argument to the isNaN function is not of type Number, the value is first coerced to a Number. The resulting value is then tested to determine whether it is NaN. Thus for non-numbers that when coerced to numeric type result in a valid non-NaN numeric value (notably the empty string and boolean primitives, which when coerced give numeric values zero or one), the "false" returned value may be unexpected; the empty string, for example, is surely "not a number." The confusion stems from the fact that the term, "not a number", has a specific meaning for numbers represented as IEEE-754 floating-point values. The function should be interpreted as answering the question, "is this value, when coerced to a numeric value, an IEEE-754 'Not A Number' value?"

ECMAScript 2015 contains the Number.isNaN() function. Number.isNaN(x) is a reliable way to test whether x is NaN or not. Even with Number.isNaN, however, the meaning of NaN remains the precise numeric meaning and not simply, "not a number". Alternatively, in the absence of Number.isNaN, the expression (x != x) is a more reliable way to test whether variable x is NaN or not, as the result is not subject to the false positives that make isNaN unreliable.

A polyfill for isNaN would be (the polyfill leverages the unique never-equal-to-itself characteristic of NaN):

var isNaN = function(value) {
    var n = Number(value);
    return n !== n;


isNaN(NaN);       // true
isNaN(undefined); // true
isNaN({});        // true

isNaN(true);      // false
isNaN(null);      // false
isNaN(37);        // false

// strings
isNaN('37');      // false: "37" is converted to the number 37 which is not NaN
isNaN('37.37');   // false: "37.37" is converted to the number 37.37 which is not NaN
isNaN("37,5");    // true
isNaN('123ABC');  // true:  parseInt("123ABC") is 123 but Number("123ABC") is NaN
isNaN('');        // false: the empty string is converted to 0 which is not NaN
isNaN(' ');       // false: a string with spaces is converted to 0 which is not NaN

// dates
isNaN(new Date());                // false
isNaN(new Date().toString());     // true

// This is a false positive and the reason why isNaN is not entirely reliable
isNaN('blabla');   // true: "blabla" is converted to a number.
                   // Parsing this as a number fails and returns NaN

Useful special-case behavior

There is a more usage oriented way to think of isNaN(): If isNaN(x) returns false, you can use x in an arithmetic expression not making the expression return NaN. If it returns true, x will make every arithmetic expression return NaN. This means that in JavaScript, isNaN(x) == true is equivalent to x - 0 returning NaN (though in JavaScript x - 0 == NaN always returns false, so you can't test for it). Actually, isNaN(x), isNaN(x - 0), isNaN(Number(x)), Number.isNaN(x - 0), and Number.isNaN(Number(x)) always return the same and in JavaScript isNaN(x) is just the shortest possible form to express each of these terms.

You can use this, for example, to test whether an argument to a function is arithmetically processable (usable "like" a number), or if it's not and you have to provide a default value or something else. This way you can have a function that makes use of the full versatility JavaScript provides by implicitly converting values depending on context.


ECMAScript (ECMA-262)
The definition of 'isNaN' in that specification.

Browser compatibility

ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung InternetNode.js
isNaNChrome Full support 1Edge Full support 12Firefox Full support 1IE Full support 3Opera Full support 3Safari Full support 1WebView Android Full support 1Chrome Android Full support 18Firefox Android Full support 4Opera Android Full support 10.1Safari iOS Full support 1Samsung Internet Android Full support 1.0nodejs Full support 0.1.100


Full support
Full support

See also