Skip to content

TypeScript's 'Symbol' Type: Creating Unique Object Properties

TypeScript, Symbol2 min read

One of the challenges in JavaScript development is preventing naming conflicts when adding properties to objects. TypeScript provides a solution with its 'Symbol' type, which allows you to create unique property keys. In this article, we will explore how to use TypeScript's 'Symbol' type to create unique object properties and avoid naming collisions.

Creating a Symbol

To create a symbol in TypeScript, you can use the global 'Symbol' function. Each call to 'Symbol' returns a unique symbol value. Here's an example:

1const mySymbol = Symbol();

In this example, 'mySymbol' is assigned a new symbol value. It is important to note that symbols are immutable and unique. Even if you call 'Symbol()' multiple times without passing any arguments, each call will return a different symbol.

Using Symbols as Object Properties

Symbols can be used as object properties just like strings or numbers. Let's see an example of using symbols as properties:

1const mySymbol = Symbol();
3const obj = {
4 [mySymbol]: 'Hello, symbol!'
7console.log(obj[mySymbol]); // Output: Hello, symbol!

In this example, we create a new symbol called 'mySymbol' and use it as a property key in the 'obj' object. We can access the value associated with the symbol using square brackets notation.

Preventing Naming Conflicts

The real power of symbols comes from their ability to prevent naming conflicts. Since symbols are unique, they can be used as property keys without the risk of colliding with other properties. Consider the following scenario:

1const nameTest = Symbol();
2const person = {
3 [nameTest]: 'John'
6console.log(person[nameTest]); // Output: John

In this example, we use a symbol called 'nameTest' as a property key in the 'person' object. Even if there is an existing property named 'nameTest', they won't conflict because they have different types (symbol vs. string).

Well-Known Symbols

TypeScript also provides several well-known symbols that have predefined meanings and can be used to modify or define the behavior of objects. Some common well-known symbols include 'Symbol.iterator', 'Symbol.toStringTag', and 'Symbol.hasInstance'. Here's an example of using the 'Symbol.iterator' symbol:

1const myArray = [1, 2, 3];
2const iterator = myArray[Symbol.iterator]();
4console.log(; // Output: { value: 1, done: false }
5console.log(; // Output: { value: 2, done: false }
6console.log(; // Output: { value: 3, done: false }
7console.log(; // Output: { value: undefined, done: true }

In this example, we access the 'Symbol.iterator' property of the 'myArray' object, which returns an iterator object. We can use this iterator to iterate over the elements of the array.

Wrapping Up

Symbols in TypeScript provide a powerful mechanism for creating unique object properties and avoiding naming conflicts. By using symbols, you can ensure that your properties won't clash with existing ones, even if they have the same name. This feature is particularly useful when working with libraries or frameworks where multiple components may need to add properties to objects without interfering with each other. Start leveraging symbols in your TypeScript projects and harness the power of unique object properties!