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shift() in JavaScript – How to Remove First Array Element

Whenever you use shift() on an array, the method does the following:

  1. It removes its calling array's first item.
  2. It returns the removed item.
  • A calling array is an array on which you used shift(). So, in bestColorsList.shift(), bestColorsList is the calling array.
  • shift() is sometimes written as Array.prototype.shift() because it is a method of the Array object's prototype property.

Syntax of the shift() Method

shift() accepts no argument. Here is the syntax:


Example 1: Remove an Array's First Item

const numbersArray = [1, 2, 3, 4];


// The invocation above will return: 1

// Check the numbersArray's current content:

// The invocation above will return:
[2, 3, 4];

Try it on StackBlitz

You can see that shift() removed and returned numbersArray's first item (1).

Also, note that shift() changed the original array's length.

Example 2: Remove an Array's First Item

const fruitsArray = ["Mango", "Apple", "Orange"];
const removedFruit = fruitsArray.shift();

console.log(removedFruit); // returns "Mango"
console.log(fruitsArray); // returns ["Apple", "Orange"]

Try it on StackBlitz

The snippet above used shift() to shift away fruitsArray's first item.

  • To remove an array's last item, use pop().
  • To remove an item at a specific index position, use the splice() method.


This article discussed what JavaScript's shift() method does. We also used examples to see how it works.