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A native vanilla JavaScript way to get the closest matching parent element

Back in June, I showed you how to create a helper method, getClosest(), to find the closest parent element with a certain selector.

One of my readers told me about .closest(), a native element property that does the same thing.

var elem = document.querySelector('#some-element');
var closestParent = elem.closest('.pick-me');

The catch? It’s poorly supported by browsers.

But… there’s a polyfill you can use, and it’s less code than my helper function.

if (window.Element && !Element.prototype.closest) {
    Element.prototype.closest = 
    function(s) {
        var matches = (this.document || this.ownerDocument).querySelectorAll(s),
            el = this;
        do {
            i = matches.length;
            while (--i >= 0 && matches.item(i) !== el) {};
        } while ((i < 0) && (el = el.parentElement)); 
        return el;

I’ll be using this instead of getClosest() on all future projects.

🚀 I just relaunched my Vanilla JS Pocket Guides with new code examples and real projects to help tie everything you’ll learn together. Check it out.

Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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