.parents()

.parents( [ selector ] ) Returns: jQuery

Description: Get the ancestors of each element in the current set of matched elements, optionally filtered by a selector.

  • version added: 1.0.parents( [ selector ] )

    selectorA string containing a selector expression to match elements against.

Given a jQuery object that represents a set of DOM elements, the .parents() method allows us to search through the ancestors of these elements in the DOM tree and construct a new jQuery object from the matching elements. The .parents() and .parent() methods are similar, except that the latter only travels a single level up the DOM tree.

The method optionally accepts a selector expression of the same type that we can pass to the $() function. If the selector is supplied, the elements will be filtered by testing whether they match it.

Consider a page with a basic nested list on it:

<ul class="level-1">
  <li class="item-i">I</li>
  <li class="item-ii">II
    <ul class="level-2">
      <li class="item-a">A</li>
      <li class="item-b">B
        <ul class="level-3">
          <li class="item-1">1</li>
          <li class="item-2">2</li>
          <li class="item-3">3</li>
        </ul>
      </li>
      <li class="item-c">C</li>
    </ul>
  </li>
  <li class="item-iii">III</li>
</ul>

If we begin at item A, we can find its ancestors:

$('li.item-a').parents().css('background-color', 'red');

The result of this call is a red background for the level-2 list, item II, and the level-1 list (and on up the DOM tree all the way to the <html> element). Since we do not supply a selector expression, all of the ancestors are part of the returned jQuery object. If we had supplied one, only the matching items among these would be included.

Examples:

Example: Find all parent elements of each b.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <style>
  b, span, p, html body {
    padding: .5em;
    border: 1px solid;
  }
  b { color:blue; }
  strong { color:red; }
  </style>
  <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
	<div>
    <p>
      <span>
        <b>My parents are: </b>
      </span>

    </p>
  </div>
<script>
    var parentEls = $("b").parents()
                          .map(function () { 
                                return this.tagName; 
                              })
                          .get().join(", ");
    $("b").append("<strong>" + parentEls + "</strong>");

</script>
</body>
</html>

Demo:

Example: Click to find all unique div parent elements of each span.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <style>

  p, div, span {margin:2px; padding:1px; }
  div { border:2px white solid; }
  span { cursor:pointer; font-size:12px; }
  .selected { color:blue; }
  b { color:red; display:block; font-size:14px; }
  </style>
  <script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
	<p>
    <div>
      <div><span>Hello</span></div>
      <span>Hello Again</span>

    </div>
    <div>
      <span>And Hello Again</span>
    </div>
  </p>

  <b>Click Hellos to toggle their parents.</b>
<script>
    function showParents() {
      $("div").css("border-color", "white");
      var len = $("span.selected")
                       .parents("div")
                       .css("border", "2px red solid")
                       .length;
      $("b").text("Unique div parents: " + len);
    }
    $("span").click(function () {
      $(this).toggleClass("selected");
      showParents();
    });</script>
</body>
</html>

Demo: