Provides ECMAScript Harmony Symbols (Private Names) for ECMAScript 5.
Latest commit 3607f91 Jan 29, 2013 Nathan Wall Update
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releases Removed versioning from Secrets. Nov 23, 2012 Update Jan 29, 2013
Symbol.jsx Improved integrity of Symbols. Changed instance deleteFrom and isIn t… Dec 16, 2012
SymbolsForES5.jsx Released version 1.0.3. Nov 13, 2012


Note: This script has been superseded by Secrets (for the time being).

Provides ECMAScript Harmony Symbols (Private Names) for ECMAScript 5.

This shim will check to see if the Symbol constructor already exists globally, and if not it will add it. Should work in any ES5 compliant environment, browser or server.

A nice way to go ahead and start working with Symbols before they arrive in browsers, and to have code that will work with Symbols once they do arrive in browsers, provided they end up being named Symbols and have the same API as the current draft.

This shim will be updated as the draft progresses.


var Person = (function() {

    var firstName = new Symbol(),
        lastName = new Symbol();

    function Person(first, last) {
        this[firstName] = first;
        this[lastName] = last;

    Person.prototype.getFullName = function() {
        return this[firstName] + ' ' + this[lastName];

    return Person;


var john = new Person('John', 'Smith');
john.getFullName(); // => 'John Smith'

Object.getOwnPropertyNames(john); // => [ ]

Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty has been overridden to support object.hasOwnProperty(symbol).

var x = { };
var a = new Symbol();
x[a] = 5;

x[a]; // => 5
x.hasOwnProperty(a); // => true

Symbols work on prototypes.

var color = new Symbol();
function A() { }
A.prototype[color] = 'green';

var x = new A();
x[color]; // => 'green'
x.hasOwnProperty(color); // => false

Symbols don't show up in loops, Object.keys, or Object.getOwnPropertyNames.

var x = { };
var bar = new Symbol(); = 27;
x[bar] = 83;

Object.getOwnPropertyNames(x); // => [ 'foo' ]
x[bar]; // => 83

However, it is not possible to delete a Symbol with delete object[symbol]. This is the one aspect of Symbols which cannot be implemented in ES5 without significant performance overheads. This implementation provides an alternative, Symbol.__deleteSymbol__(object, symbol).

var x = { };
var bar = new Symbol();
x[bar] = 8;

delete x[bar]; // => false
x[bar]; // => 8

    Symbol.__deleteSymbol__(x, bar); // => true
else delete x[bar]; // This will be used when your environment natively supports Symbols.

An alternative, if you don't need the fine-grained aspects of delete, is to simply set the value to undefined, which mimics delete in every aspect except when checking hasOwnProperty. In most cases, this should be good enough, and will be forward compatible with native Symbols when they are available.