Dispatches an Event at the specified EventTarget, invoking the affected EventListeners in the appropriate order. The normal event processing rules (including the capturing and optional bubbling phase) also apply to events dispatched manually with dispatchEvent().


cancelled = !target.dispatchEvent(event)


  • event is the Event object to be dispatched.
  • target is used to initialize the Event.target and determine which event listeners to invoke.

Return Value

  • The return value is false if at least one of the event handlers which handled this event called Event.preventDefault(). Otherwise it returns true.

The dispatchEvent method throws UNSPECIFIED_EVENT_TYPE_ERR if the event's type was not specified by initializing the event before the method was called, or if the event's type is null or an empty string. Exceptions thrown by event handlers are reported as uncaught exceptions; the event handlers run on a nested callstack: they block the caller until they complete, but exceptions do not propagate to the caller.


dispatchEvent is the last step of the create-init-dispatch process, which is used for dispatching events into the implementation's event model. The event can be created using document.createEvent method and initialized using initEvent or other, more specific, initialization methods, such as initMouseEvent or initUIEvent.

See also the Event object reference.


See Creating and triggering events.


Specification Status Comment
The definition of 'EventTarget.dispatchEvent()' in that specification.
Living Standard  
The definition of 'EventTarget.dispatchEvent()' in that specification.
Document Object Model (DOM) Level 2 Events Specification
The definition of 'EventTarget.dispatchEvent()' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari (WebKit)
Basic support 4 2 9 [1] 9.64 (probably earlier) 3.2 (probably earlier)
Feature Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support ? ? ? ? ?

[1]: Earlier versions of IE instead only support the proprietary EventTarget.fireEvent() method.


© 2016 Mozilla Contributors
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License v2.5 or later.

API DOM DOM Element Methods Gecko Method NeedsBrowserCompatibility NeedsMobileBrowserCompatibility