What's a "Well-Known" Symbol in JavaScript?

Find out what is a meant by "well-known" symbol in JavaScript

The term "well-known symbol" refers to built-in symbols that are used by some underlying JavaScript algorithms. You can also use these in your objects and/or classes to hook into a JavaScript object's lifecycle and control various aspects of it.

For example, if you implement the well-known symbol Symbol.toPrimitive() as a class method, then you can control what value is returned when the class instance is coerced to another value:

// ES6+
class Foo {
    [Symbol.toPrimitive](hint) {
        if (hint === 'number') {
            return 1234;
        }

        return null;
    }
}

const foo = new Foo();

console.log(Number(foo)); // 1234

It can be implemented in the same way in an object literal:

// ES6+
const obj = {
    [Symbol.toPrimitive](hint) {
        if (hint === 'number') {
            return 1234;
        }

        return null;
    }
}

console.log(Number(foo)); // 1234

For simplicity, a "well-known" symbol is sometimes shortened to "@@<name>" (using the double at sign). However, the double at sign itself is not valid JavaScript syntax, and is merely meant for a shorter reference to Symbol.<name>.


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