Is Dictionary a Data Type or Data Structure in Python?


Larry Thompson

In Python, a dictionary is both a data type and a data structure. It is a powerful tool that allows you to store and retrieve key-value pairs.

What is a Data Type?

A data type defines the kind of data that can be stored in a variable. In Python, there are several built-in data types such as integers, strings, lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries. Each data type has its own characteristics and methods for manipulating the data.

What is a Data Structure?

A data structure is a way of organizing and storing data in memory. It provides efficient access and modification operations on the stored elements.

Python offers various built-in data structures like lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries. These structures are designed to handle different types of data and optimize performance for specific use cases.

Dictionary as a Data Type

A dictionary in Python is considered as a separate data type because it represents an unordered collection of key-value pairs where each key must be unique. The keys in a dictionary are used to access their corresponding values.


my_dict = {
    "name": "John Doe",
    "age": 25,
    "country": "USA"

The above code snippet creates a dictionary called my_dict. Here, “name”, “age”, and “country” are the keys, while “John Doe”, 25, and “USA” are their respective values.

Accessing Values in Dictionary

You can retrieve the values stored in a dictionary by using the corresponding key:

name = my_dict["name"]
age = my_dict["age"]
country = my_dict["country"]

print(name)     # Output: John Doe
print(age)      # Output: 25
print(country)  # Output: USA

Dictionary as a Data Structure

As a data structure, a dictionary provides efficient ways to store and retrieve key-value pairs. It uses a hash table implementation, which allows for fast lookups based on the keys.

Adding and Modifying Values

You can add new key-value pairs to a dictionary or modify existing ones:

my_dict["occupation"] = "Software Engineer"    # Adding a new key-value pair
my_dict["age"] = 26                            # Modifying an existing value

# Output: {'name': 'John Doe', 'age': 26, 'country': 'USA', 'occupation': 'Software Engineer'}

Removing Values

To remove an item from a dictionary, you can use the del keyword:

del my_dict["country"]

# Output: {'name': 'John Doe', 'age': 26, 'occupation': 'Software Engineer'}

Checking if a Key Exists

You can check if a specific key exists in a dictionary using the in keyword:

if "age" in my_dict:
    print("Age exists!")
    print("Age does not exist!")

# Output: Age exists!


In Python, dictionaries serve as both data types and data structures. They provide an efficient way to store and retrieve key-value pairs.

As a data type, dictionaries allow you to define variables that hold collections of related information. As a data structure, dictionaries offer fast lookups based on the keys, making them ideal for scenarios that require quick access to data.

By understanding the characteristics and usage of dictionaries in Python, you can leverage their power to solve a wide range of programming problems.

Discord Server - Web Server - Private Server - DNS Server - Object-Oriented Programming - Scripting - Data Types - Data Structures

Privacy Policy