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How to delete a key from a dictionary in Python

Learn how you can remove a key from a dictionary in Python.


This article shows how you can remove a key from a dictionary in Python.

To delete a key, you can use two options:

  • Using del my_dict['key']
  • Using my_dict.pop('key', None)

Let's look at both options in detail:

Using del

The first option is to use the del keyword:

data = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}

del data['a']
# data: {'b': 2}

This will raise a KeyError if the key does not exist:

data = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}

del data['c']
# KeyError: 'c'

So you can wrap it either in a if statement or a try-except block to avoid an Exception:

if 'c' in data:
    del data['c']

# or
try:
    del data['c']
except KeyError:
    pass

Using pop()

The second option is to use the pop(key[, default]) method.

If key is in the dictionary, it removes it and returns its value, else it returns default. If default is not given and the key is not in the dictionary, a KeyError is raised.

So if you use pop() with None as the default, it removes the key but doesn't raise a KeyError if the key does not exist.

data = {'a': 1, 'b': 2}

data.pop('a', None)
# data: {'b': 2}

data.pop('a', None)
# data: {'b': 2}

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