How to get random value out of an array?

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Here in this article, we will share some of the most common and frequently asked about PHP problem in programming with detailed answers and code samples. There’s nothing quite so frustrating as being faced with PHP errors and being unable to figure out what is preventing your website from functioning as it should. If you have an existing PHP-based website or application that is experiencing performance issues, let’s get thinking about How to get random value out of an array?.

I have an array called $ran = array(1,2,3,4);

I need to get a random value out of this array and store it in a variable, how can I do this?

Solution :

You can also do just:

$k = array_rand($array);
$v = $array[$k];

This is the way to do it when you have an associative array.

PHP provides a function just for that: array_rand()

$ran = array(1,2,3,4);
$randomElement = $ran[array_rand($ran, 1)];

$value = $array[array_rand($array)];

You can use mt_rand()

$random = $ran[mt_rand(0, count($ran) - 1)];

This comes in handy as a function as well if you need the value

function random_value($array, $default=null)
    $k = mt_rand(0, count($array) - 1);
    return isset($array[$k])? $array[$k]: $default;

You could use the array_rand function to select a random key from your array like below.

$array = array("one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six");
echo $array[array_rand($array, 1)];

or you could use the rand and count functions to select a random index.

$array = array("one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six");
echo $array[rand(0, count($array) - 1)];

Derived from Laravel Collection::random():

function array_random($array, $amount = 1)
    $keys = array_rand($array, $amount);

    if ($amount == 1) {
        return $array[$keys];

    $results = [];
    foreach ($keys as $key) {
        $results[] = $array[$key];

    return $results;


$items = ['foo', 'bar', 'baz', 'lorem'=>'ipsum'];

array_random($items); // 'bar'
array_random($items, 2); // ['foo', 'ipsum']

A few notes:

  • $amount has to be less than or equal to count($array).
  • array_rand() doesn’t shuffle keys (since PHP 5.2.10, see 48224), so your picked items will always be in original order. Use shuffle() afterwards if needed.

Documentation: array_rand(), shuffle()

edit: The Laravel function has noticeably grown since then, see Laravel 5.4’s Arr::random(). Here is something more elaborate, derived from the grown-up Laravel function:

function array_random($array, $number = null)
    $requested = ($number === null) ? 1 : $number;
    $count = count($array);

    if ($requested > $count) {
        throw new RangeException(
            "You requested {$requested} items, but there are only {$count} items available."

    if ($number === null) {
        return $array[array_rand($array)];

    if ((int) $number === 0) {
        return [];

    $keys = (array) array_rand($array, $number);

    $results = [];
    foreach ($keys as $key) {
        $results[] = $array[$key];

    return $results;

A few highlights:

  • Throw exception if there are not enough items available
  • array_random($array, 1) returns an array of one item (#19826)
  • Support value “0” for the number of items (#20439)

The array_rand function seems to have an uneven distribution on large arrays, not every array item is equally likely to get picked. Using shuffle on the array and then taking the first element doesn’t have this problem:

$myArray = array(1, 2, 3, 4, 5);

// Random shuffle

// First element is random now
$randomValue = $myArray[0];

Another approach through flipping array to get direct value.


$array = [ 'Name1' => 'John', 'Name2' => 'Jane', 'Name3' => 'Jonny' ];
$val = array_rand(array_flip($array));

array_rand return key not value. So, we’re flipping value as key.

PHP key alway be an unique key, so when array is flipped, duplicate value as a key will be overwritten.

$rand = rand(1,4);

or, for arrays specifically:

$array = array('a value', 'another value', 'just some value', 'not some value');
$rand = $array[ rand(0, count($array)-1) ];


echo $array[array_rand($array,1)]

$ran = array("a","b","c","d");
$ranval = array_map(function($i) use($ran){return $ran[$i];},array_rand($ran,2));

One line: $ran[rand(0, count($ran) - 1)]

I needed one line version for short array:

($array = [1, 2, 3, 4])[mt_rand(0, count($array) - 1)]

or if array is fixed:

[1, 2, 3, 4][mt_rand(0, 3]

Does your selection have any security implications? If so, use random_int() and array_keys(). (random_bytes() is PHP 7 only, but there is a polyfill for PHP 5).

function random_index(array $source)
    $max = count($source) - 1;
    $r = random_int(0, $max);
    $k = array_keys($source);
    return $k[$r];


$array = [
    'apple' =>   1234,
    'boy'   =>   2345,
    'cat'   =>   3456,
    'dog'   =>   4567,
    'echo'  =>   5678,
    'fortune' => 6789
$i = random_index($array);
var_dump([$i, $array[$i]]);


Use rand() to get random number to echo random key. In ex: 0 – 3

$ran = array(1,2,3,4);
echo $ran[rand(0,3)];

This will work nicely with in-line arrays. Plus, I think things are tidier and more reusable when wrapped up in a function.

function array_rand_value($a) {
    return $a[array_rand($a)];


array_rand_value(array("a", "b", "c", "d"));

On PHP < 7.1.0, array_rand() uses rand(), so you wouldn’t want to this function for anything related to security or cryptography. On PHP 7.1.0+, use this function without concern since rand() has been aliased to mt_rand().

I’m basing my answer off of @Ă“lafurWaage’s function. I tried to use it but was running into reference issues when I had tried to modify the return object. I updated his function to pass and return by reference. The new function is:

function &random_value(&$array, $default=null)
    $k = mt_rand(0, count($array) - 1);
    if (isset($array[$k])) {
        return $array[$k];
    } else {
        return $default;

For more context, see my question over at Passing/Returning references to object + changing object is not working

A simple way to getting Randdom value form Array.

$color_array =["red","green","blue","light_orange"];

now every time you will get different colors from Array.

Get random values from an array.

function random($array)
    /// Determine array is associative or not
    $keys = array_keys($array);
    $givenArrIsAssoc = array_keys($keys) !== $keys;

    /// if array is not associative then return random element
        return $array[array_rand($array)];

    /// If array is associative then 
    $keys = array_rand($array, $number);
    $results = [];
    foreach ((array) $keys as $key) {
        $results[] = $array[$key];
    return $results;

You get a random number out of an array as follows:

$randomValue = $rand[array_rand($rand,1)];

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