Closures in Javascript

When I was interviewing for my last job, one of the companies I interviewed with asked me to describe what closures were in javascript. I wasn’t really happy with the answer that I gave at the time. I am aware that there are countless places that describe closures across the internet. Mozilla has very good write-up on their site. However, since one of the best ways to learn something is to explain or teach it, I wanted to write up a simple description myself.

You can find all of the code used in this post on github.

TL/DR: A closure is a function that has one or more variables bound to it.

In the following simple example greetingFactory returns a function that can say hello to the name passed into it. Notice that the sayHi function accesses the greeting variable from outside of its scope. This is possible due to lexical scoping in javascript.

var greetingFactory = function() {
  var greeting = 'Hello there'  
  var sayHi = function(name) {
    return greeting + ' ' + name;
  return sayHi;

When greetingFactory returns, the greeting variable has gone out of scope. However, its value is bound to the sayHi function. The sayHi function remembers the environment in which it was created. The return value is then assigned to the hiGreeter function below. hiGreeter is now a closure. hiGreeter now references the sayHi function with the value of the greeting variable enclosed in it.

var hiGreeter = greetingFactory();
var out = hiGreeter('John')
// This prints: Hello there John

To make this example (ever so slightly) more interesting, I can pull the greeting value out as a parameter to greetingFactory. I can now make multiple different functions using the factory that use different greeting values.

greetingFactory = function(greeting) { 
  var sayHi = function(name) {
    return greeting + ' ' + name;
  return sayHi;

var saluteGreeter = greetingFactory('Salutations');
var ahoyGreeter = greetingFactory('Ahoy hoy');

var salute = saluteGreeter('Alley');
// This prints : Salutations Alley

var ahoy = ahoyGreeter('Matthew');
// This prints: Ahoy hoy Matthew

Feel free to yell at me if I got something wrong using the email below. Thanks for reading (I say to absolutely no-one).