Is there a single word that can describe JavaScript functions, variables, and objects? I was thinking "entities", but that word is usually used to describe the mapping between objects and a database. And I'm trying to be more descriptive than calling them just "things". Also, "concepts" or "ideas" seem a bit too abstract... Is there another word I could use that is more concrete?

For example: "In JavaScript, 'scope' is the set of ____(word)____ you have access to."

The example was taken from this article in w3schools, and I was wondering if there is another term that succinctly covers function, variables, and objects.

  • 1
    In other languages, sometimes they are called identifiers (emphasizing the ability to refer to them by name) or symbols (emphasizing the role they play in linking - a step that isn't relevant at all to JavaScript.)
    – rwong
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 16:35
  • If I got it right all Javascript ____(word)____ are objects, but anyway. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 16:50
  • 1
    @rwong: An "identifier" is the name of the thing, not the named thing. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:20
  • In the context, a scope is the set of identifier bindings that you have access to.
    – JacquesB
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:22
  • 1
    Variables are pretty different things from functions and objects. This would be easier to answer if you said what, specifically, you're trying to describe that apparently covers all three categories.
    – user7043
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


There is no common term (and you don't need one) since they are different categories of things. The quote uses imprecise language:

In JavaScript, scope is the set of variables, objects, and functions you have access to.

Technically this is wrong, since it confuses variables and values, which are distinct concepts. A scope is a set of variables. A variable is a named reference to a value. Objects, functions and primitives are values. So there is a level of indirection between variable and value which mean you cannot lump them together.

  • You make interesting points. I'm wondering then if it is valid to say that these are JS "constructs"?? I'm not sure. If functions are a kind of object, and an object is a kind of value, and variables contain values, then is there a word that can describe both the value and the "slot"? If you were to buy shoes at a store you would describe it as just "buying shoes" despite that the item comes with a shoe box ("slot"). But, is it correct to say that variables, objects, and functions are all types of values?
    – Dash
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 18:07
  • @Dash: A variable is not a type of value, so no. Language constructs or language element are broad terms which would encompass both variables and values and many other things.
    – JacquesB
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 18:11
  • Okay, but at least we are getting closer to a possible term. IMHO, Language construct and language element is better than calling them "things" or "concepts"
    – Dash
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 18:28
  • @Dash: My point is you don't need a common term for variables and values, since you would never lump them together in a meaningful sentence.
    – JacquesB
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 10:04
  • Okay, lets step back a bit. I can understand that a JavaScript object is not something that the scope has access to directly unless it is assigned to a variable so that the scope can reference the object by an identifier. And I can understand that functions are values. But, why would it not be valid to say that the scope is the set of functions and variables you have access to? I can see an anonymous function have problems since there is no identifier associated with it, but a named function is definitely something a scope might have access to.
    – Dash
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 15:03

"Entities" is a good catch-all term, although it is not widely used because there is not often a reason to refer to such a broad group of things.

Indeed, your proposed quotation is wrong: scope limits visibility of names of things, not of named things. So you could say "names", or use the technical term "identifiers".

  • I didn't downvote. I think your answer and the other comments are very helpful. I was actually debating "entities", but after reading another discussion on Stack Overflow and another discussion here I thought there might be another term that is more suitable. But, then again, I'm not sure if functions and variables in JavaScript are actually objects...
    – Dash
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:55

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