Sort a Python Dictionary by Value

Jinku Hu Jan 30, 2023 Aug 14, 2018 Python Python Dictionary
  1. Python Sort Dictionary by Value - Only Get the Sorted Values
  2. Use operator.itemgetter to Sort the Python Dictionary
  3. Use lambda Function in the Key of sorted to Sort Python the Dictionary
  4. OrderedDict to Get the Dictionary-Compatible Result in Python Dictionary Sorting
Sort a Python Dictionary by Value

Python dictionary is an order-less data type, therefore, you could not sort the Python dictionary by its keys or values. But you could get the representation of sorted Python dictionary in other data types like list.

Assume we have a dictionary like below,

exampleDict = {'first': 3, 'second': 4, 'third': 2, 'fourth': 1}

Python Sort Dictionary by Value - Only Get the Sorted Values

sortedDict = sorted(exampleDict.values())
#Out: [1, 2, 3, 4]

Use operator.itemgetter to Sort the Python Dictionary

import operator
sortedDict = sorted(exampleDict.items(), key=operator.itemgetter(1))
#Out: [('fourth', 1), ('third', 2), ('first', 3), ('second', 4)]

exampleDict.items returns the key-value pair of dictionary elements. key=operator.itemgetter(1) specifies the comparison key is the value of the dictionary, meanwhile operator.itemgetter(0) has the comparison key of the dictionary key.

Use lambda Function in the Key of sorted to Sort Python the Dictionary

You could also lambda function to get the comparison key instead of operator.itemgetter

sortedDict = sorted(exampleDict.items(), key=lambda x: x[1])
#Out: [('fourth', 1), ('third', 2), ('first', 3), ('second', 4)]

exampleDict.items() returns a list of key-value pairs of the dictionary and its element’s data type is tuple. x is the element of this tuple, where x[0] is the key and x[1] is the value. key=lambda x:x[1] indicates the comparison key is the value of the dictionary elements.

Optional parameter reverse could be set to be True if the values need to be sorted in descending order.

sortedDict = sorted(exampleDict.items(), key=lambda x: x[1], reverse=True)
#Out: [('second', 4), ('first', 3), ('third', 2), ('fourth', 1)]

OrderedDict to Get the Dictionary-Compatible Result in Python Dictionary Sorting

The example code shown above returns the result as a list, but not a dictionary type. If you want to keep the result as dictionary-compatible type, OrderedDict introduced from Python 2.7 is the right choice.

from collections import OrderedDict
sortedDict = OrderedDict(sorted(exampleDict.items(), key=lambda x: x[1]))
#Out: OrderedDict([('fourth', 1), ('third', 2), ('first', 3), ('second', 4)])

The OrderedDict is a Python dict subclass that supports the usual methods and also remembers the order that keys are first inserted.

Author: Jinku Hu
Jinku Hu avatar Jinku Hu avatar

Founder of DelftStack.com. Jinku has worked in the robotics and automotive industries for over 8 years. He sharpened his coding skills when he needed to do the automatic testing, data collection from remote servers and report creation from the endurance test. He is from an electrical/electronics engineering background but has expanded his interest to embedded electronics, embedded programming and front-/back-end programming.

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