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In a given execution context, the Variable object is the Activation object of that execution context. From my research online, I am able to find the previous sentence rephrased in different ways but no one is able to tell what it is.

What is an Activation object?

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An activation object is the uppermost object in a scope-chain with the lowermost being global object. See this answer for more details. –  ikaruss Jan 24 '14 at 3:20

1 Answer 1

Let me start from the roots...

Execution context is an object which consists of:

  • variable object, which is activation object in case of functions
  • scope chain, which you can think of as a linked list of outer scopes
  • this value

Variable object is an abstract thing, which can be either one of those:

  • global object (in global context) - the place where global vars (like window, document or console in a browser) reside
  • activation object (for functions, which define scopes in ECMAScript)

Activation object is an object which holds:

  • formal args of the function
  • arguments object for this function
  • any vars and (named) functions inside this function

So, activation object is just a special case of variable object.

It is basically a container for all the local stuff you can access by name inside a function, except for this. I may be imprecise here, but that's what I think it is.

More explainations with some nice pictures:

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