checking for typeof error in JS

You can use the instanceof operator (but see caveat below!).

var myError = new Error('foo');
myError instanceof Error // true
var myString = "Whatever";
myString instanceof Error // false

The above won't work if the error was thrown in a different window/frame/iframe than where the check is happening. In that case, the instanceof Error check will return false, even for an Error object. In that case, the easiest approach is duck-typing.

if (myError && myError.stack && myError.message) {
  // it's an error, probably

However, duck-typing may produce false positives if you have non-error objects that contain stack and message properties.

You can use Object.prototype.toString to easily check if an object is an Error, which will work for different frames as well.

function isError(obj){
    return === "[object Error]";

function isError(obj){
    return === "[object Error]";
console.log("Error:", isError(new Error));
console.log("RangeError:", isError(new RangeError));
console.log("SyntaxError:", isError(new SyntaxError));
console.log("Object:", isError({}));
console.log("Array:", isError([]));

This behavior is guaranteed by the ECMAScript Language Specification.


When the toString method is called, the following steps are taken:

  1. If the this value is undefined, return "[object Undefined]".
  2. If the this value is null, return "[object Null]".
  3. Let O be the result of calling ToObject passing the this value as the argument.
  4. Let class be the value of the [[Class]] internal property of O.
  5. Return the String value that is the result of concatenating the three Strings "[object ", class, and "]".

Properties of Error Instances:

Error instances inherit properties from the Error prototype object and their [[Class]] internal property value is "Error". Error instances have no special properties.

I asked the original question - @Trott's answer is surely the best.

However with JS being a dynamic language and with there being so many JS runtime environments, the instanceof operator can fail especially in front-end development when crossing boundaries such as iframes. See:

If you are ok with duck typing, this should be good:

let isError = function(e){
 return e && e.stack && e.message;

I personally prefer statically typed languages, but if you are using a dynamic language, it's best to embrace a dynamic language for what it is, rather than force it to behave like a statically typed language.

if you wanted to get a little more precise, you could do this:

   let isError = (e) => {
     return e && e.stack && e.message && typeof e.stack === 'string' 
            && typeof e.message === 'string';