How to Remove a Key From a Dictionary in Python

Published Aug 14, 2020

What are some ways we can remove a key from a dictionary?

Using del

If we know the key exists for sure, we can run del.

del some_dict['key']

If the key doesn’t exist, this will return a KeyError.

We can circumvent this issue with a try except.

try:
    del some_dict['key']
except KeyError:
    pass

Using pop()

If we don’t know whether the key exists or need the deleted value, we can use pop().

This will default the return value to None if the key doesn’t exist.

deleted_value = some_dict.pop('key', None)

Compared to del with the try except, pop() is a good deal faster when the key doesn’t exist since raising an exception is quite slow.

On the other hand, del with the try except is marginally faster when a key exists.


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