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__proto__ vs prototype

Written byPhuoc Nguyen
31 Aug, 2023
In JavaScript, `__proto__` and `prototype` are two frequently used terms that can be confusing. While they are related, they have distinct meanings and uses. Let's clear up the confusion.


In JavaScript, when you create an object from a constructor function, it comes with a built-in property called `prototype`. This is like a blueprint for all the objects created from that constructor function. It defines the shared properties and methods that all instances of that object will have.
function Circle(radius) {
this.radius = radius;

Circle.prototype.getArea = function() {
return Math.PI * Math.pow(this.radius, 2);

const circle = new Circle(5);
circle.getArea(); // `78.53981633974483`
In the code above, the `getArea` method is contained in an object called `Circle.prototype`. When a new `Circle` instance is created, its `__proto__` property is set to `Circle.prototype`.


`__proto__` is a property of an object that points to its prototype. This property is used internally by the JavaScript engine to search for properties and methods on an object's prototype chain.
const circle = new Circle(10);
console.log(circle.__proto__ === Circle.prototype); // true
In the code above, `circle.__proto__` points to `Circle.prototype`.


The difference between `__proto__` and `prototype` is simple: `__proto__` is a property of an object instance, while `prototype` is a property of a constructor function.
When you use `__proto__`, you're looking up properties and methods on an object's prototype chain. On the other hand, `prototype` defines the shared properties and methods that all instances created from a constructor function will have.
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