12.6 Names and Keywords

IdentifierName and ReservedWord are tokens that are interpreted according to the Default Identifier Syntax given in Unicode Standard Annex #31, Identifier and Pattern Syntax, with some small modifications. ReservedWord is an enumerated subset of IdentifierName. The syntactic grammar defines Identifier as an IdentifierName that is not a ReservedWord. The Unicode identifier grammar is based on character properties specified by the Unicode Standard. The Unicode code points in the specified categories in the latest version of the Unicode standard must be treated as in those categories by all conforming ECMAScript implementations. ECMAScript implementations may recognize identifier code points defined in later editions of the Unicode Standard.

Note 1

This standard specifies specific code point additions: U+0024 (DOLLAR SIGN) and U+005F (LOW LINE) are permitted anywhere in an IdentifierName, and the code points U+200C (ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER) and U+200D (ZERO WIDTH JOINER) are permitted anywhere after the first code point of an IdentifierName.

Unicode escape sequences are permitted in an IdentifierName, where they contribute a single Unicode code point to the IdentifierName. The code point is expressed by the CodePoint of the UnicodeEscapeSequence (see 12.8.4). The \ preceding the UnicodeEscapeSequence and the u and { } code units, if they appear, do not contribute code points to the IdentifierName. A UnicodeEscapeSequence cannot be used to put a code point into an IdentifierName that would otherwise be illegal. In other words, if a \ UnicodeEscapeSequence sequence were replaced by the SourceCharacter it contributes, the result must still be a valid IdentifierName that has the exact same sequence of SourceCharacter elements as the original IdentifierName. All interpretations of IdentifierName within this specification are based upon their actual code points regardless of whether or not an escape sequence was used to contribute any particular code point.

Two IdentifierNames that are canonically equivalent according to the Unicode standard are not equal unless, after replacement of each UnicodeEscapeSequence, they are represented by the exact same sequence of code points.


IdentifierName :: IdentifierStart IdentifierName IdentifierPart IdentifierStart :: UnicodeIDStart $ _ \ UnicodeEscapeSequence IdentifierPart :: UnicodeIDContinue $ \ UnicodeEscapeSequence <ZWNJ> <ZWJ> UnicodeIDStart :: any Unicode code point with the Unicode property “ID_Start” UnicodeIDContinue :: any Unicode code point with the Unicode property “ID_Continue”

The definitions of the nonterminal UnicodeEscapeSequence is given in 12.8.4.

Note 2

The nonterminal IdentifierPart derives _ via UnicodeIDContinue.

Note 3

The sets of code points with Unicode properties “ID_Start” and “ID_Continue” include, respectively, the code points with Unicode properties “Other_ID_Start” and “Other_ID_Continue”.

12.6.1 Identifier Names Static Semantics: Early Errors

IdentifierStart :: \ UnicodeEscapeSequence IdentifierPart :: \ UnicodeEscapeSequence

12.6.2 Keywords and Reserved Words

A keyword is a token that matches IdentifierName, but also has a syntactic use; that is, it appears literally, in a fixed width font, in some syntactic production. The keywords of ECMAScript include if, while, async, await, and many others.

A reserved word is an IdentifierName that cannot be used as an identifier. Many keywords are reserved words, but some are not, and some are reserved only in certain contexts. if and while are reserved words. await is reserved only inside async functions and modules. async is not reserved; it can be used as a variable name or statement label without restriction.

This specification uses a combination of grammatical productions and early error rules to specify which names are valid identifiers and which are reserved words. All tokens in the ReservedWord list below, except for await and yield, are unconditionally reserved. Exceptions for await and yield are specified in 13.1, using parameterized syntactic productions. Lastly, several early error rules restrict the set of valid identifiers. See 13.1.1,,, and 15.7.1. In summary, there are five categories of identifier names:

  • Those that are always allowed as identifiers, and are not keywords, such as Math, window, toString, and _;

  • Those that are never allowed as identifiers, namely the ReservedWords listed below except await and yield;

  • Those that are contextually allowed as identifiers, namely await and yield;

  • Those that are contextually disallowed as identifiers, in strict mode code: let, static, implements, interface, package, private, protected, and public;

  • Those that are always allowed as identifiers, but also appear as keywords within certain syntactic productions, at places where Identifier is not allowed: as, async, from, get, of, set, and target.

The term conditional keyword, or contextual keyword, is sometimes used to refer to the keywords that fall in the last three categories, and thus can be used as identifiers in some contexts and as keywords in others.


ReservedWord :: one of await break case catch class const continue debugger default delete do else enum export extends false finally for function if import in instanceof new null return super switch this throw true try typeof var void while with yield Note 1

Per 5.1.5, keywords in the grammar match literal sequences of specific SourceCharacter elements. A code point in a keyword cannot be expressed by a \ UnicodeEscapeSequence.

An IdentifierName can contain \ UnicodeEscapeSequences, but it is not possible to declare a variable named "else" by spelling it els\u{65}. The early error rules in 13.1.1 rule out identifiers with the same StringValue as a reserved word.

Note 2

enum is not currently used as a keyword in this specification. It is a future reserved word, set aside for use as a keyword in future language extensions.

Similarly, implements, interface, package, private, protected, and public are future reserved words in strict mode code.

Note 3

The names arguments and eval are not keywords, but they are subject to some restrictions in strict mode code. See 13.1.1, 8.5.4, 15.2.1, 15.5.1, 15.6.1, and 15.8.1.