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String.prototype.localeCompare()

The localeCompare() method returns a number indicating whether a reference string comes before, or after, or is the same as the given string in sort order. In implementations with Intl.Collator API support, this method simply calls Intl.Collator.

Try it

Syntax

localeCompare(compareString)
localeCompare(compareString, locales)
localeCompare(compareString, locales, options)

Parameters

The locales and options parameters customize the behavior of the function and let applications specify the language whose formatting conventions should be used.

In implementations that support the Intl.Collator API, these parameters correspond exactly to the Intl.Collator() constructor's parameters. Implementations without Intl.Collator support are asked to ignore both parameters, making the comparison result returned entirely implementation-dependent — it's only required to be consistent.

compareString

The string against which the referenceStr is compared.

locales Optional

A string with a BCP 47 language tag, or an array of such strings. Corresponds to the locales parameter of the Intl.Collator() constructor.

In implementations without Intl.Collator support, this parameter is ignored and the host's locale is usually used.

options Optional

An object adjusting the output format. Corresponds to the options parameter of the Intl.Collator() constructor.

In implementations without Intl.Collator support, this parameter is ignored.

See the Intl.Collator() constructor for details on the locales and options parameters and how to use them.

Return value

A negative number if referenceStr occurs before compareString; positive if the referenceStr occurs after compareString; 0 if they are equivalent.

In implementations with Intl.Collator, this is equivalent to new Intl.Collator(locales, options).compare(referenceStr, compareString).

Description

Returns an integer indicating whether the referenceStr comes before, after or is equivalent to the compareString.

  • Negative when the referenceStr occurs before compareString
  • Positive when the referenceStr occurs after compareString
  • Returns 0 if they are equivalent

Warning: Do not rely on exact return values of -1 or 1!

Negative and positive integer results vary between browsers (as well as between browser versions) because the W3C specification only mandates negative and positive values. Some browsers may return -2 or 2, or even some other negative or positive value.

Performance

When comparing large numbers of strings, such as in sorting large arrays, it is better to create an Intl.Collator object and use the function provided by its compare() method.

Examples

Using localeCompare()

// The letter "a" is before "c" yielding a negative value
'a'.localeCompare('c'); // -2 or -1 (or some other negative value)

// Alphabetically the word "check" comes after "against" yielding a positive value
'check'.localeCompare('against'); // 2 or 1 (or some other positive value)

// "a" and "a" are equivalent yielding a neutral value of zero
'a'.localeCompare('a'); // 0

Sort an array

localeCompare() enables case-insensitive sorting for an array.

const items = ['réservé', 'Premier', 'Cliché', 'communiqué', 'café', 'Adieu'];
items.sort((a, b) => a.localeCompare(b, 'fr', { ignorePunctuation: true }));
// ['Adieu', 'café', 'Cliché', 'communiqué', 'Premier', 'réservé']

Check browser support for extended arguments

The locales and options arguments are not supported in all browsers yet.

To check whether an implementation supports them, use the "i" argument (a requirement that illegal language tags are rejected) and look for a RangeError exception:

function localeCompareSupportsLocales() {
  try {
    'foo'.localeCompare('bar', 'i');
  } catch (e) {
    return e.name === 'RangeError';
  }
  return false;
}

Using locales

The results provided by localeCompare() vary between languages. In order to get the sort order of the language used in the user interface of your application, make sure to specify that language (and possibly some fallback languages) using the locales argument:

console.log('ä'.localeCompare('z', 'de')); // a negative value: in German, ä sorts before z
console.log('ä'.localeCompare('z', 'sv')); // a positive value: in Swedish, ä sorts after z

Using options

The results provided by localeCompare() can be customized using the options argument:

// in German, ä has a as the base letter
console.log('ä'.localeCompare('a', 'de', { sensitivity: 'base' })); // 0

// in Swedish, ä and a are separate base letters
console.log('ä'.localeCompare('a', 'sv', { sensitivity: 'base' })); // a positive value

Numeric sorting

// by default, "2" > "10"
console.log("2".localeCompare("10")); // 1

// numeric using options:
console.log("2".localeCompare("10", undefined, { numeric: true })); // -1

// numeric using locales tag:
console.log("2".localeCompare("10", "en-u-kn-true")); // -1

Specifications

Browser compatibility

Desktop Mobile Server
Chrome Edge Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari WebView Android Chrome Android Firefox for Android Opera Android Safari on IOS Samsung Internet Deno Node.js
localeCompare
1
12
1
5.5
7
3
4.4
18
4
10.1
1
1.0
1.0
0.10.0
locales
24
12
29
11
15
10
No
26
56
No
10
1.5
1.8
1.0-1.8
Only the locale data for en-US is available.
13.0.0
0.12.0
Before version 13.0.0, only the locale data for en-US is available by default. When other locales are specified, the function silently falls back to en-US. To make full ICU (locale) data available before version 13, see Node.js documentation on the --with-intl option and how to provide the data.
options
24
12
29
11
15
10
No
26
56
No
10
1.5
1.0
0.12.0

See also

© 2005–2022 MDN contributors.
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License v2.5 or later.
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Reference/Global_Objects/String/localeCompare