Difference between .parent() and .closest in jQuery

I have been using jQuery for a while. I wanted to use the parent() selector. I also came up with the closest() selector. I was intrigued to find difference between them.

The .parents() and .closest() methods are similar in that they both traverse up the DOM tree. The differences between the two, though subtle, are significant:


  • Begins with the current element
  • Travels up the DOM tree until it finds a match for the supplied selector
  • The returned jQuery object contains zero or one element


  • Begins with the parent element
  • Travels up the DOM tree to the document’s root element, adding each ancestor element to a temporary collection; it then filters that collection based on a selector if one is supplied
  • The returned jQuery object contains zero, one, or multiple elements


  • Given a jQuery object that represents a set of DOM elements, the .parent() method allows us to search through the parents of these elements in the DOM tree and construct a new jQuery object from the matching elements.

Note: The .parents() and .parent() methods are similar, except that the latter only travels a single level up the DOM tree. Also, $(“html”).parent() method returns a set containing document whereas $(“html”).parents() returns an empty set.