Python Dictionary

  • Python

A dictionary in python is an unordered collection of elements and each element is a unique key : value pair. The dictionary is denoted by {}. Dictionaries are used when you don’t want to access and element using it’s index value and want to use something else.

How to create a Python Dictionary

Creating a python dictionary is easy as putting your items in a box. You just have to place the elements inside curly brackets {}. Each element should have a key and it’s value and the key should always be unique.

Let’s understand this using a few examples.

dict_1 = {1:'techie', 2:'hours'}

dict_2 = {'color':'black', 'shape':'circle', 'fruit':'banana'}

We created two dictionaries in the above example. Let’s now try to access the elements. We’ll use square brackets [] to access and element and we’ll enter the key value inside the brackets.




Output :




What if we try to access an element that does not exist in the dictionary?


# Output
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
KeyError: 4

It will give you a key error as the key is not present in the dictionary. If you don’t want dictionary to throw Key Error, you can use a function called .get(). It will not show you any output but will also not give any error.


# Output

You can also create a dictionary by combining two different lists with keys and values in each lists respectively. We use zip() function to achieve this.

keys = [1, 2, 3, 4]
values = ['Monday', 'Tuesday', 'Wednesday', 'Thursday']

new_dict = dict(zip(keys, values))


Output :

{1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday'}

Adding an element to a dictionary

There isn’t any specific way to add an element to a dictionary but let’s check the below two easy ways to do so.

old_dict = {1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday'}

old_dict[5] = 'Friday'


Output :

{1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 5: 'Friday'}
{1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 5: 'Friday', 6: 'Saturday'}

Deleting an element from the Dictionary

We can use del keyword or pop() function to remove an element from a dictionary. They both are different in their own ways. We also have clear() method to clear the complete dictionary.

old_dict = {1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 5: 'Friday', 6: 'Saturday'}


del old_dict[6]

Output :

{1: 'Monday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 5: 'Friday', 6: 'Saturday'}
{1: 'Monday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 5: 'Friday'}

Nested Python Dictionary

Python dictionary can also contain another dictionary and this is know as Python Nested Dictionary.

dict_nest = {1: 'Monday', 2: 'Tuesday', 3: 'Wednesday', 4: 'Thursday', 'new_dict': {'color': 'black', 'fruit': 'apple'}}


Output :


More Python Dictionary methods

clear()Removes all elements from the dictionary
copy()Returns a copy of the dictionary
fromkeys()Returns a new dictionary with given keys and values
get()Returns value of the given key
item()Returns a list containing tuples of each Key/Value pair
keys()Returns a list of dictionary’s keys
pop()Removes the element with the given key
popitem()Removes the last added Key/value pair
setdefault()Returns value of the given key. If key is missing, inserts key with given value.
update()Updates the dictionary with the given Key/Value pair
values()Returns a list of dictionary’s values