Is List a Mutable Data Type in Python?


Scott Campbell

Lists are a fundamental data type in Python, often used to store collections of related data. They are mutable, meaning that their elements can be modified after the list is created. In this article, we will explore the mutability of lists in Python and understand how it affects our code.

What is a List?

A list in Python is an ordered collection of elements enclosed within square brackets ([]). Elements within a list can be of different data types such as integers, strings, or even other lists. Lists allow us to store and manipulate multiple values efficiently.

Mutable vs. Immutable Data Types

In Python, data types can be classified as either mutable or immutable. Mutable objects can be modified after they are created, whereas immutable objects cannot be changed once they are created.

Examples of Immutable Data Types:

  • Numeric types: int, float
  • Boolean type: bool
  • Tuple type: tuple
  • Frozen set type: frozenset
  • String type: str


  • An immutable object’s value cannot be changed; however, if you reassign a new value to the same variable name, it creates a new object in memory.
  • The id() function can be used to check if two objects refer to the same memory location.

Examples of Mutable Data Types:

  • List type: list
  • Dictionary type: dict
  • Set type: set

Lists: A Mutable Data Type

As mentioned earlier, lists in Python are mutable. This means that we can change individual elements within a list without creating a new list object. Let’s see an example:

fruits = ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'banana', 'cherry']

fruits[1] = 'kiwi'
print(fruits)  # Output: ['apple', 'kiwi', 'cherry']

In the above example, we modified the second element of the list without recreating the entire list. The output demonstrates that lists can be altered in place.

Mutable Operations on Lists

Lists being mutable allow us to perform various operations such as adding or removing elements, slicing, sorting, and more.

Adding Elements to a List:

We can add elements to a list using various methods like append(), insert(), or extend(). Here’s an example:

numbers = [1, 2, 3]
print(numbers)  # Output: [1, 2, 3, 4]

numbers.insert(1, 5)
print(numbers)  # Output: [1, 5, 2, 3, 4]

print(numbers)  # Output: [1, 5, 2, 3, 4, 6,7]

Removing Elements from a List:

We can remove elements from a list using methods like remove(), pop(), or del. Here’s an example:

numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
print(numbers)  # Output: [1, 2, 4, 5]

popped_element = numbers.pop()
print(popped_element) # Output: 5
print(numbers)       # Output: [1, 2, 4]

del numbers[0]
print(numbers)       # Output: [2, 4]


Lists are mutable data types in Python. Their ability to be modified in place makes them versatile for various programming tasks. Understanding the mutability of lists helps us leverage their power effectively and write efficient code.

Remember to keep in mind the mutability of lists when designing algorithms or manipulating data structures involving lists. Use this knowledge to your advantage and create dynamic programs that can adapt and change as per your requirements.

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