(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8)

array_randPick one or more random keys out of an array


array_rand(array $array, int $num = 1): int|string|array

Picks one or more random entries out of an array, and returns the key (or keys) of the random entries.


This function does not generate cryptographically secure values, and must not be used for cryptographic purposes, or purposes that require returned values to be unguessable.

If cryptographically secure randomness is required, the Random\Randomizer may be used with the Random\Engine\Secure engine. For simple use cases, the random_int() and random_bytes() functions provide a convenient and secure API that is backed by the operating system’s CSPRNG.



The input array. Cannot be empty.


Specifies how many entries should be picked. Must be greater than zero, and less than or equal to the length of array

Return Values

When picking only one entry, array_rand() returns the key for a random entry. Otherwise, an array of keys for the random entries is returned. This is done so that random keys can be picked from the array as well as random values. If multiple keys are returned, they will be returned in the order they were present in the original array.


Throws a ValueError if array is empty, or if num is out of range.


Version Description
8.0.0 array_rand() now throws a ValueError if num is out of range; previously an E_WARNING was raised, and the function returned null.
8.0.0 array_rand() now throws a ValueError if array is empty; previously an E_WARNING was raised, and the function returned null.
7.1.0 The internal randomization algorithm has been changed to use the » Mersenne Twister Random Number Generator instead of the libc rand function.


Example #1 array_rand() example

= array("Neo", "Morpheus", "Trinity", "Cypher", "Tank");
$rand_keys = array_rand($input, 2);
$input[$rand_keys[0]] . "\n";
$input[$rand_keys[1]] . "\n";

See Also

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User Contributed Notes 4 notes

14 years ago
If the array elements are unique, and are all integers or strings, here is a simple way to pick $n random *values* (not keys) from an array $array:

<?php array_rand(array_flip($array), $n); ?>
11 years ago
It doesn't explicitly say it in the documentation, but PHP won't pick the same key twice in one call.
6 years ago

* Wraps array_rand call with additional checks
* TLDR; not so radom as you'd wish.
* NOTICE: the closer you get to the input arrays length, for the n parameter, the  output gets less random.
* e.g.: array_random($a, count($a)) == $a will yield true
* This, most certainly, has to do with the method used for making the array random (see other comments).
* @throws OutOfBoundsException – if n less than one or exceeds size of input array
* @param array $array – array to randomize
* @param int $n – how many elements to return
* @return array
function array_random(array $array, int $n = 1): array
    if (
$n < 1 || $n > count($array)) {
        throw new

    return (
$n !== 1)
array_values(array_intersect_key($array, array_flip(array_rand($array, $n))))
        : array(
6 years ago
// An example how to fetch multiple values from array_rand
$a = [ 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'f', 'g' ];
$n = 3;

// If you want to fetch multiple values you can try this:
print_r( array_intersect_key( $a, array_flip( array_rand( $a, $n ) ) ) );

// If you want to re-index keys wrap the call in 'array_values':
print_r( array_values( array_intersect_key( $a, array_flip( array_rand( $a, $n ) ) ) ) );
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