Return the Value of a Named Object

Search by name for an object (get) or zero or more objects (mget).

get(x, pos = -1, envir = as.environment(pos), mode = "any",
    inherits = TRUE)

mget(x, envir = as.environment(-1), mode = "any", ifnotfound, inherits = FALSE)

dynGet(x, ifnotfound = , minframe = 1L, inherits = FALSE)


For get, an object name (given as a character string). For mget, a character vector of object names.

pos, envir

where to look for the object (see ‘Details’); if omitted search as if the name of the object appeared unquoted in an expression.


the mode or type of object sought: see the ‘Details’ section.


should the enclosing frames of the environment be searched?


For mget, a list of values to be used if the item is not found: it will be coerced to a list if necessary. For dynGet any R object, e.g., a call to stop().


integer specifying the minimal frame number to look into.


The pos argument can specify the environment in which to look for the object in any of several ways: as a positive integer (the position in the search list); as the character string name of an element in the search list; or as an environment (including using sys.frame to access the currently active function calls). The default of -1 indicates the current environment of the call to get. The envir argument is an alternative way to specify an environment.

These functions look to see if each of the name(s) x have a value bound to it in the specified environment. If inherits is TRUE and a value is not found for x in the specified environment, the enclosing frames of the environment are searched until the name x is encountered. See environment and the ‘R Language Definition’ manual for details about the structure of environments and their enclosures.

If mode is specified then only objects of that type are sought. mode here is a mixture of the meanings of typeof and mode: "function" covers primitive functions and operators, "numeric", "integer" and "double" all refer to any numeric type, "symbol" and "name" are equivalent but "language" must be used (and not "call" or "(").

For mget, the values of mode and ifnotfound can be either the same length as x or of length 1. The argument ifnotfound must be a list containing either the value to use if the requested item is not found or a function of one argument which will be called if the item is not found, with argument the name of the item being requested.

dynGet() is somewhat experimental and to be used inside another function. It looks for an object in the callers, i.e., the sys.frame()s of the function. Use with caution.


For get, the object found. If no object is found an error results.

For mget, a named list of objects (found or specified via ifnotfound).


The reverse (or “inverse”) of a <- get(nam) is assign(nam, a), assigning a to name nam.

inherits = TRUE is the default for get in R but not for S where it had a different meaning.


Becker, R. A., Chambers, J. M. and Wilks, A. R. (1988) The New S Language. Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole.

See Also

exists for checking whether an object exists; get0 for an efficient way of both checking existence and getting an object.

assign, the inverse of get(), see above.

Use getAnywhere for searching for an object anywhere, including in other namespaces, and getFromNamespace to find an object in a specific namespace.

  • get
  • mget
  • dynGet
library(base) # NOT RUN { get("%o%") ## test mget e1 <- new.env() mget(letters, e1, ifnotfound = as.list(LETTERS)) # }
Documentation reproduced from package base, version 3.6.2, License: Part of R 3.6.2

Community examples at Jan 17, 2017 base v3.3.2

`get()` retrieves objects by name. ```{r} x <- 1:5 get("x") ``` You can use it with functions too, but often you want [``]( for that task. ```{r} get("var")"var") ``` You can specify where to look for the object. ```{r} get("abs", as.environment("package:base")) ``` If we look in an environment higher up the [`search()`]( path then get will still find what we asked for. ```{r} get("abs", as.environment("package:stats")) ``` …unless we specify `inherits = FALSE` ```{r} tryCatch( get("abs", as.environment("package:stats"), inherits = FALSE), error = print ) ``` It is a good idea to check to see if the variable [`exists()`]( before getting it. ```{r} if(exists("abs", as.environment("package:stats"), inherits = FALSE)) { get("abs", as.environment("package:stats"), inherits = FALSE) } else { message("Could not find abs in the stats package.") } ``` `get0()` provides a more efficient alternative to the previous code pattern. ```{r} abs_fn <- get0("abs", as.environment("package:stats"), inherits = FALSE) if(is.null(abs_fn)) { message("Could not find abs in the stats package.") } ``` `mget()` is useful for retrieving objects satisfying some criterion from an `environment`. For example, you can get all primitive functions from the `methods` package. ```{r} methods_env <- as.environment("package:methods") methods_var_names <- ls(methods_env) methods_vars <- mget(methods_var_names, methods_env) (primitive_fns_in_methods <- Filter(is.primitive, methods_vars)) ``` Another use of `mget()` is for grouping related variables into a `list`. Suppose you have a few variables that you want to calculate the mean of. Working with individual variables can be tiresome. ```{r} x1 <- 1:5 x2 <- (1:5) ^ 2 x3 <- (1:5) ^ 3 x4 <- (1:5) ^ 4 x5 <- (1:5) ^ 5 # The following code involves cutting and pasting, which makes it error-prone. mean(x1) mean(x2) mean(x3) mean(x4) mean(x5) # By using a list, you can use sapply to loop over elements, and save some repeated typing. x_var_names <- ls(globalenv(), pattern = "^x[1-5]$") x_list <- mget(x_var_names, globalenv()) sapply(x_list, mean) ``` `mget()` has an `ifnotfound` argument that saves you having to do if-exists-then-get. ```{r} mget( c("var", "abs"), as.environment("package:stats"), ifnotfound = NA, inherits = FALSE ) ``` `dynGet()` works its way back up the call stack until it finds the variable that you are looking for. ```{r} f <- function(x) { z <- 3 g(x + 1, z - 1) } g <- function(x, y) { message('dynGet("x") = ', dynGet("x")) message('dynGet("y") = ', dynGet("y")) message('dynGet("z") = ', dynGet("z")) message( 'dynGet("<?>") = ', dynGet("<?>", ifnotfound = "did not find <?>") ) } f(0) ```