JavaScript's const keyword

02 May 2021 — Written by Harley Ferguson

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash. It's planks of wood. Because of Planck's constant. Get it. Not a physics fans, huh?

JavaScript's introduction of the const keyword in ES6 is amazing but has some hidden passages that you may not be aware of.

The const keyword

const is used to create block-scoped variables that provide a read-only reference to a value.

const name = "John";
name = "Ringo"; 
console.log(name); // John

We can see here how we've declared a constant variable called name with the value of "John". If we try to reassign that value to "Ringo", the application will throw an error and inform us that the name variable is read-only.

const and Objects

Like mentioned above, the const keyword will create a read-only variable, however, that does not mean that the actual variable reference is immutable.

const beatle = {
    name: "John",
    surname: "Lennon"
} = "Ringo";
console.log(; // Ringo

We were able to reassign the property on the constant because we haven't attempted to change the variable's reference but rather the value on a property in that reference. const only allows us to not reassign the reference.

const and Arrays

const beatles = ['John', 'Paul', 'George'];
console.log(beatles); // ["John", "Paul", "George", "Ringo"]

console.log(beatles); // ["John", "Paul"]

beatles = ["Noel", "Liam"]; // TypeError

Once again we can see how we can manipulate a const variable array by adding and remove elements, however, as soon as we attempt to reassign the variable to a new array an error is thrown.

Constants and Enums

So if we have a const keyword that doesn't allow reassignment to a new reference but still allows you to reassign a property, how could we make that not possible at all for the use case of constants or enumerators?

The answer to that is Object.freeze(). This method will "freeze" an object which means that the object can no longer be changed, properties cannot be added and properties cannot be removed. It even prevents the prototype being changed.

const beatle = Object.freeze({
    name: "John",
    surname: "Lennon"
}); = "Ringo";
console.log(; // John

Object.freeze() allows us to create constants and enums with the guarantee that the values won't be changed in anyway.

Note: Nested objects within a frozen objects need to be frozen as well. Freezing an object only freezes the parent object.

When to use const

const should be used when you're wanting to create a block-scoped variable where you know that the value isn't going to change.

const beatles = ['John', 'Paul', 'George', 'Ringo'];

for (const i = 0; i < beatles.length; i++) { // TypeError as you're reassigning i

const beatles = ['John', 'Paul', 'George', 'Ringo'];

for (const member of beatles) {