How to remove key from Python Dictionary


Dictionaries are an essential data structure in Python, and they allow you to store and manipulate data in a way that is intuitive and efficient. In a dictionary, you can store key-value pairs, where each key maps to a value. However, there may be instances where you need to remove a particular key from your dictionary.

In this blog post, we will explore the different methods of removing a key from a Python dictionary. We will go through each method step-by-step and provide code examples to help you understand the concepts better.

So let’s dive in and learn how to remove keys from a Python dictionary!

Understanding Python Dictionaries

Python dictionaries are a collection of key-value pairs. They are used to store and retrieve data efficiently. Each key in a dictionary must be unique and maps to a corresponding value. The values in a dictionary can be any data type, including lists, tuples, or even other dictionaries.

To create a dictionary in Python, you can use curly braces {} or the built-in dict() function. Here is an example:

my_dict = {'apple': 1, 'banana': 2, 'orange': 3}

In the above example, we have created a dictionary with three key-value pairs. The keys are strings (‘apple’, ‘banana’, and ‘orange’) and the values are integers (1, 2, and 3).

You can access the values in a dictionary by using the keys as an index. Here is an example:


This will output `1`.

If you try to access a key that does not exist in the dictionary, you will get a KeyError. To avoid this error, you can use the get() method instead. Here is an example:

print(my_dict.get('pear', 'Not Found'))

This will output `Not Found` because the key `’pear’` does not exist in the dictionary.

Now that we have covered the basics of Python dictionaries, let’s move on to removing a key from a dictionary.

Removing a Key-Value Pair from a Dictionary using del keyword

In Python, dictionaries are one of the most commonly used data structures. They allow you to store key-value pairs that can be accessed quickly and efficiently. However, there may be times when you want to remove a key-value pair from a dictionary.

To remove a key-value pair from a dictionary, you can use the `del` keyword followed by the key that you want to remove. Here’s an example:

my_dict = {'apple': 1, 'banana': 2, 'orange': 3}

# Removing 'banana' from the dictionary
del my_dict['banana']

# Output: {'apple': 1, 'orange': 3}

In this example, we created a dictionary called `my_dict` with three key-value pairs. We then used the `del` keyword to remove the `’banana’` key-value pair from the dictionary. Finally, we printed out the updated dictionary, which now only contains the `’apple’` and `’orange’` keys.

It’s important to note that if you try to delete a key that doesn’t exist in the dictionary, you will get a `KeyError`. To avoid this, you can first check if the key exists using the `in` keyword:

if 'banana' in my_dict:
    del my_dict['banana']

This code checks if `’banana’` is in `my_dict`, and only deletes it if it exists in the dictionary.

In conclusion, removing a key-value pair from a Python dictionary is easy using the `del` keyword. Just remember to make sure that the key exists before trying to delete it!

Removing a Key-Value Pair using pop() Method

Python dictionaries are a powerful data structure that allow you to store key-value pairs. Sometimes, you may need to remove a key-value pair from a dictionary. In Python, you can use the `pop()` method to remove an item from a dictionary based on its key.

The `pop()` method removes the key-value pair corresponding to the specified key and returns its value. Here is the syntax for using the `pop()` method:

my_dict = {'apple': 2, 'banana': 3, 'orange': 4}
value = my_dict.pop('banana')

In this example, we have a dictionary `my_dict` with three key-value pairs. We use the `pop()` method to remove the key `’banana’` and assign its value to the variable `value`.

If the specified key is not found in the dictionary, then `pop()` will raise a `KeyError`. However, you can provide a default value to return if the key is not found by passing a second argument to `pop()`:

my_dict = {'apple': 2, 'banana': 3, 'orange': 4}
value = my_dict.pop('pear', None)

In this example, we try to remove the key `’pear’` from the dictionary using `pop()`. Since `’pear’` is not a key in `my_dict`, we pass `None` as the second argument to `pop()`. This causes `pop()` to return `None` instead of raising a `KeyError`.

Note that when you use `pop()` to remove an item from a dictionary, it permanently removes that item from the dictionary. If you need to keep a copy of the removed item or want to undo the removal later on, you should make a copy of the original dictionary before using `pop()`.

Removing an Arbitrary Key-Value Pair using popitem() Method

In Python, you can remove an arbitrary key-value pair from a dictionary using the `popitem()` method. This method removes and returns an arbitrary key-value pair as a tuple from the dictionary.

Here is an example:

my_dict = {'apple': 5, 'banana': 10, 'orange': 7}

# Remove an arbitrary key-value pair
removed_item = my_dict.popitem()

print(f"Removed Item: {removed_item}")
print(f"My Dictionary: {my_dict}")


Removed Item: (‘orange’, 7)
My Dictionary: {‘apple’: 5, ‘banana’: 10}

As you can see, the `popitem()` method removed the key-value pair `(‘orange’, 7)` from the dictionary. The method also returns the removed key-value pair as a tuple.

If the dictionary is empty, calling `popitem()` raises a `KeyError`. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to check if the dictionary is empty before calling this method.

Note that unlike `del` statement which can remove any specific key-value pair in a dictionary based on its key, the `popitem()` method removes an arbitrary key-value pair.


In this blog post, we have learned how to remove a key from a Python dictionary using various methods. We started by discussing the `del` keyword, which is a simple and straightforward way to delete a key-value pair from a dictionary.

We then moved on to the `pop()` method, which not only removes the specified key but also returns its value. This method can be used to handle cases where you want to perform some operation on the value before deleting it.

Finally, we discussed the `popitem()` method, which removes and returns an arbitrary key-value pair from the dictionary. This method is useful when you want to remove items from the dictionary in a random order.

In conclusion, removing a key from a Python dictionary is a common task in programming. By using the methods discussed in this blog post, you can easily remove keys from your dictionaries and manipulate them as needed.
Interested in learning more? Check out our Introduction to Python course!

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