Are Dictionaries Ordered Python

Python Programming

In Python, dictionaries are a widely used data structure that allows us to store and retrieve data efficiently. One of the questions that often arises when working with dictionaries is whether they maintain any specific order. In this article, I will explore the behavior of dictionaries in Python and shed light on whether dictionaries are ordered or not.

Before diving into the details, let’s first understand what it means for a data structure to be ordered. An ordered data structure is one that maintains the order of its elements, allowing us to access them in a predictable and consistent manner.

When it comes to dictionaries in Python, the short answer is: dictionaries are not ordered. This means that the order of the elements in a dictionary is not guaranteed and can change between different executions of the code.

Python dictionaries use a hashing mechanism to store the key-value pairs. This hashing mechanism allows for fast retrieval of values based on their keys, but it does not preserve the order of the elements. The hashing process takes the key and computes a unique hash value, which is then used as an index to store the corresponding value.

Although dictionaries are not ordered, starting from Python 3.7, the insertion order of elements in dictionaries is preserved. This means that when iterating over a dictionary, the elements will be returned in the order they were inserted. It’s important to note that this behavior is an implementation detail and not guaranteed by the Python language specification. Therefore, it’s not considered safe to rely on the insertion order of dictionary elements across different versions or implementations of Python.

Instead of relying on the order of elements in a dictionary, Python provides other data structures that do guarantee order. One such data structure is the collections.OrderedDict. This specialized dictionary implementation maintains the order of the elements, allowing us to retrieve and iterate over them in the order they were added.

It’s also worth mentioning that in Python 3.8 and later versions, dictionaries have been optimized to maintain insertion order by default. This means that, in practice, dictionaries in these versions of Python behave as if they were ordered. However, it’s important to remember that this behavior is still not guaranteed by the language specification.

In conclusion, while dictionaries in Python are not ordered in a strict sense, the insertion order of elements can be preserved in certain versions of Python. It’s important to be aware of this behavior and consider using other data structures, such as collections.OrderedDict, if maintaining order is a requirement in your code.


Python dictionaries are a powerful data structure that allows for efficient storage and retrieval of key-value pairs. However, they are not inherently ordered, and the order of elements can change between different executions of the code. While the insertion order of elements can be preserved in certain versions of Python, it’s not guaranteed by the language specification. It’s essential to be mindful of this behavior and use alternative data structures like collections.OrderedDict if order is a critical requirement in your code.