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Python Dictionaries


Dictionary

A dictionary is a collection which is unordered, changeable and indexed. In Python dictionaries are written with curly brackets, and they have keys and values.

Example

Create and print a dictionary:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Accessing Items

You can access the items of a dictionary by referring to its key name, inside square brackets:

Example

Get the value of the "model" key:

x = thisdict["model"]
Try it Yourself »

There is also a method called get() that will give you the same result:

Example

Get the value of the "model" key:

x = thisdict.get("model")
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Change Values

You can change the value of a specific item by referring to its key name:

Example

Change the "year" to 2018:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
thisdict["year"] = 2018
Try it Yourself »

Loop Through a Dictionary

You can loop through a dictionary by using a for loop.

When looping through a dictionary, the return value are the keys of the dictionary, but there are methods to return the values as well.

Example

Print all key names in the dictionary, one by one:

for x in thisdict:
  print(x)
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Example

Print all values in the dictionary, one by one:

for x in thisdict:
  print(thisdict[x])
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Example

You can also use the values() function to return values of a dictionary:

for x in thisdict.values():
  print(x)
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Example

Loop through both keys and values, by using the items() function:

for x, y in thisdict.items():
  print(x, y)
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Check if Key Exists

To determine if a specified key is present in a dictionary use the in keyword:

Example

Check if "model" is present in the dictionary:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
if "model" in thisdict:
  print("Yes, 'model' is one of the keys in the thisdict dictionary")
Try it Yourself »

Dictionary Length

To determine how many items (key-value pairs) a dictionary has, use the len() method.

Example

Print the number of items in the dictionary:

print(len(thisdict))
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Adding Items

Adding an item to the dictionary is done by using a new index key and assigning a value to it:

Example

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
thisdict["color"] = "red"
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Removing Items

There are several methods to remove items from a dictionary:

Example

The pop() method removes the item with the specified key name:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
thisdict.pop("model")
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Example

The popitem() method removes the last inserted item (in versions before 3.7, a random item is removed instead):

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
thisdict.popitem()
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Example

The del keyword removes the item with the specified key name:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
del thisdict["model"]
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Example

The del keyword can also delete the dictionary completely:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
del thisdict
print(thisdict) #this will cause an error because "thisdict" no longer exists.
Try it Yourself »

Example

The clear() keyword empties the dictionary:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
thisdict.clear()
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Copy a Dictionary

You cannot copy a dictionary simply by typing dict2 = dict1, because: dict2 will only be a reference to dict1, and changes made in dict1 will automatically also be made in dict2.

There are ways to make a copy, one way is to use the built-in Dictionary method copy().

Example

Make a copy of a dictionary with the copy() method:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
mydict = thisdict.copy()
print(mydict)
Try it Yourself »

Another way to make a copy is to use the built-in method dict().

Example

Make a copy of a dictionary with the dict() method:

thisdict = {
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
mydict = dict(thisdict)
print(mydict)
Try it Yourself »

Nested Dictionaries

A dictionary can also contain many dictionaries, this is called nested dictionaries.

Example

Create a dictionary that contain three dictionaries:

myfamily = {
  "child1" : {
    "name" : "Emil",
    "year" : 2004
  },
  "child2" : {
    "name" : "Tobias",
    "year" : 2007
  },
  "child3" : {
    "name" : "Linus",
    "year" : 2011
  }
}
Try it Yourself »

Or, if you want to nest three dictionaries that already exists as dictionaries:

Example

Create three dictionaries, than create one dictionary that will contain the other three dictionaries:

child1 = {
  "name" : "Emil",
  "year" : 2004
}
child2 = {
  "name" : "Tobias",
  "year" : 2007
}
child3 = {
  "name" : "Linus",
  "year" : 2011
}

myfamily = {
  "child1" : child1,
  "child2" : child2,
  "child3" : child3
}
Try it Yourself »

The dict() Constructor

It is also possible to use the dict() constructor to make a new dictionary:

Example

thisdict = dict(brand="Ford", model="Mustang", year=1964)
# note that keywords are not string literals
# note the use of equals rather than colon for the assignment
print(thisdict)
Try it Yourself »

Dictionary Methods

Python has a set of built-in methods that you can use on dictionaries.

Method Description
clear()Removes all the elements from the dictionary
copy()Returns a copy of the dictionary
fromkeys()Returns a dictionary with the specified keys and value
get()Returns the value of the specified key
items()Returns a list containing a tuple for each key value pair
keys()Returns a list containing the dictionary's keys
pop()Removes the element with the specified key
popitem()Removes the last inserted key-value pair
setdefault()Returns the value of the specified key. If the key does not exist: insert the key, with the specified value
update()Updates the dictionary with the specified key-value pairs
values()Returns a list of all the values in the dictionary

Test Yourself With Exercises

Exercise:

Use the get method to print the value of the "model" key of the car dictionary.

car =	{
  "brand": "Ford",
  "model": "Mustang",
  "year": 1964
}
print()

Start the Exercise