Simpler way to create dictionary of separate variables?


I would like to be able to get the name of a variable as a string but I don’t know if Python has that much introspection capabilities. Something like:

>>> print(my_var.__name__)

I want to do that because I have a bunch of variables I’d like to turn into a dictionary like :

bar = True
foo = False
>>> my_dict = dict(bar=bar, foo=foo)
>>> print my_dict 
{'foo': False, 'bar': True}

But I’d like something more automatic than that.

Python have locals() and vars(), so I guess there is a way.

Asked By: e-satis



This is not possible in Python, which really doesn’t have “variables”. Python has names, and there can be more than one name for the same object.

Answered By: unwind

Most objects don’t have a __name__ attribute. (Classes, functions, and modules do; any more builtin types that have one?)

What else would you expect for print(my_var.__name__) other than print("my_var")? Can you simply use the string directly?

You could “slice” a dict:

def dict_slice(D, keys, default=None):
  return dict((k, D.get(k, default)) for k in keys)

print dict_slice(locals(), ["foo", "bar"])
# or use set literal syntax if you have a recent enough version:
print dict_slice(locals(), {"foo", "bar"})


throw = object()  # sentinel
def dict_slice(D, keys, default=throw):
  def get(k):
    v = D.get(k, throw)
    if v is not throw:
      return v
    if default is throw:
      raise KeyError(k)
    return default
  return dict((k, get(k)) for k in keys)
Answered By: Roger Pate

As unwind said, this isn’t really something you do in Python – variables are actually name mappings to objects.

However, here’s one way to try and do it:

 >>> a = 1
 >>> for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
         if v is a:
             a_as_str = k
 >>> a_as_str
 >>> type(a_as_str)
Answered By: rlotun

This is a hack. It will not work on all Python implementations distributions (in particular, those that do not have traceback.extract_stack.)

import traceback

def make_dict(*expr):
    text=[name.strip() for name in text[begin:end].split(',')]
    return dict(zip(text,expr))

# {'foo': False, 'bar': True}

Note that this hack is fragile:


(calling make_dict on 2 lines) will not work.

Instead of trying to generate the dict out of the values foo and bar,
it would be much more Pythonic to generate the dict out of the string variable names 'foo' and 'bar':

dict([(name,locals()[name]) for name in ('foo','bar')])
Answered By: unutbu

Are you trying to do this?

dict( (name,eval(name)) for name in ['some','list','of','vars'] )


>>> some= 1
>>> list= 2
>>> of= 3
>>> vars= 4
>>> dict( (name,eval(name)) for name in ['some','list','of','vars'] )
{'list': 2, 'some': 1, 'vars': 4, 'of': 3}
Answered By: S.Lott

I’ve wanted to do this quite a lot. This hack is very similar to rlotun’s suggestion, but it’s a one-liner, which is important to me:

blah = 1
blah_name = [ k for k,v in locals().iteritems() if v is blah][0]

Python 3+

blah = 1
blah_name = [ k for k,v in locals().items() if v is blah][0]
Answered By: keflavich

In reading the thread, I saw an awful lot of friction. It’s easy enough to give
a bad answer, then let someone give the correct answer. Anyway, here is what I found.

From: [] (

The names are a bit different — they’re not really properties of the object, and the object itself doesn’t know what it’s called.

An object can have any number of names, or no name at all.

Names live in namespaces (such as a module namespace, an instance namespace, a function’s local namespace).

Note: that it says the object itself doesn’t know what it’s called, so that was the clue. Python objects are not self-referential. Then it says, Names live in namespaces. We have this in TCL/TK. So maybe my answer will help (but it did help me)

    jj = 123
    print eval("'" + str(id(jj)) + "'")
    print dir()

['__builtins__', '__doc__', '__file__', '__name__', '__package__', 'jj']

So there is ‘jj’ at the end of the list.

Rewrite the code as:

    jj = 123
    print eval("'" + str(id(jj)) + "'")
    for x in dir():
        print id(eval(x))

['__builtins__', '__doc__', '__file__', '__name__', '__package__', 'jj']

This nasty bit of code id’s the name of variable/object/whatever-you-pedantics-call-it.

So, there it is. The memory address of ‘jj’ is the same when we look for it directly, as when we do the dictionary look up in global name space. I’m sure you can make a function to do this. Just remember which namespace your variable/object/wypci is in.


Answered By: Jesse Monroy Jr.

Well, I encountered the very same need a few days ago and had to get a variable’s name which was pointing to the object itself.

And why was it so necessary?

In short I was building a plug-in for Maya. The core plug-in was built using C++ but the GUI is drawn through Python(as its not processor intensive). Since I, as yet, don’t know how to return multiple values from the plug-in except the default MStatus, therefore to update a dictionary in Python I had to pass the the name of the variable, pointing to the object implementing the GUI and which contained the dictionary itself, to the plug-in and then use the MGlobal::executePythonCommand() to update the dictionary from the global scope of Maya.

To do that what I did was something like:

import time

class foo(bar):

    def __init__(self):
        super(foo, self).__init__()
        self.time = time.time() #almost guaranteed to be unique on a single computer

    def name(self):
        g = globals()
        for x in g:
            if isinstance(g[x], type(self)):
                if g[x].time == self.time:
                    return x
                    #or you could:
                    #return filter(None,[x if g[x].time == self.time else None for x in g if isinstance(g[x], type(self))])
                    #and return all keys pointing to object itself

I know that it is not the perfect solution in in the globals many keys could be pointing to the same object e.g.:

a = foo()
b = a

and that the approach isn’t thread-safe. Correct me if I am wrong.

At least this approach solved my problem by getting the name of any variable in the global scope which pointed to the object itself and pass it over to the plug-in, as argument, for it use internally.

I tried this on int (the primitive integer class) but the problem is that these primitive classes don’t get bypassed (please correct the technical terminology used if its wrong). You could re-implement int and then do int = foo but a = 3 will never be an object of foo but of the primitive. To overcome that you have to a = foo(3) to get to work.

Answered By: Bleeding Fingers

With python 2.7 and newer there is also dictionary comprehension which makes it a bit shorter. If possible I would use getattr instead eval (eval is evil) like in the top answer. Self can be any object which has the context your a looking at. It can be an object or locals=locals() etc.

{name: getattr(self, name) for name in ['some', 'vars', 'here]}
Answered By: yvess

I think my problem will help illustrate why this question is useful, and it may give a bit more insight into how to answer it. I wrote a small function to do a quick inline head check on various variables in my code. Basically, it lists the variable name, data type, size, and other attributes, so I can quickly catch any mistakes I’ve made. The code is simple:

def details(val):
  vn = val.__name__                 #  If such a thing existed
  vs = str(val)
  print("The Value of "+ str(vn) + " is " + vs)
  print("The data type of " + vn + " is " + str(type(val)))

So if you have some complicated dictionary / list / tuple situation, it would be quite helpful to have the interpreter return the variable name you assigned. For instance, here is a weird dictionary:

m = 'abracadabra'
for n in m:
mydic = {'first':(0,1,2,3,4,5,6),'second':mm,'third':np.arange(0.,10)}


The Value of mydic is {'second': ['a', 'b', 'r', 'a', 'c', 'a', 'd', 'a', 'b', 'r', 'a'], 'third': array([ 0.,  1.,  2.,  3.,  4.,  5.,  6.,  7.,  8.,  9.]), 'first': [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]}
The data type of mydic is <type 'dict'>

The Value of mydic['first'] is (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)]
The data type of mydic['first'] is <type 'list'>

The Value of mydic.keys() is ['second', 'third', 'first']
The data type of mydic.keys() is <type 'tuple'>

The Value of mydic['second'][0] is a
The data type of mydic['second'][0] is <type 'str'>

I’m not sure if I put this in the right place, but I thought it might help. I hope it does.

Answered By: TheProletariat

Maybe I’m overthinking this but..

str_l = next((k for k,v in locals().items() if id(l) == id(v)))

>>> bar = True
>>> foo = False
>>> my_dict=dict(bar=bar, foo=foo)
>>> next((k for k,v in locals().items() if id(bar) == id(v)))
>>> next((k for k,v in locals().items() if id(foo) == id(v)))
>>> next((k for k,v in locals().items() if id(my_dict) == id(v)))
Answered By: rh0dium

I was working on a similar problem. @S.Lott said “If you have the list of variables, what’s the point of “discovering” their names?” And my answer is just to see if it could be done and if for some reason you want to sort your variables by type into lists. So anyways, in my research I came came across this thread and my solution is a bit expanded and is based on @rlotun solution. One other thing, @unutbu said, “This idea has merit, but note that if two variable names reference the same value (e.g. True), then an unintended variable name might be returned.” In this exercise that was true so I dealt with it by using a list comprehension similar to this for each possibility: isClass = [i for i in isClass if i != 'item']. Without it “item” would show up in each list.

__metaclass__ = type

from types import *

class Class_1: pass
class Class_2: pass
list_1 = [1, 2, 3]
list_2 = ['dog', 'cat', 'bird']
tuple_1 = ('one', 'two', 'three')
tuple_2 = (1000, 2000, 3000)
dict_1 = {'one': 1, 'two': 2, 'three': 3}
dict_2 = {'dog': 'collie', 'cat': 'calico', 'bird': 'robin'}
x = 23
y = 29
pie = 3.14159
eee = 2.71828
house = 'single story'
cabin = 'cozy'

isClass = []; isList = []; isTuple = []; isDict = []; isInt = []; isFloat = []; isString = []; other = []

mixedDataTypes = [Class_1, list_1, tuple_1, dict_1, x, pie, house, Class_2, list_2, tuple_2, dict_2, y, eee, cabin]

print 'nMIXED_DATA_TYPES total count:', len(mixedDataTypes)

for item in mixedDataTypes:
        # if isinstance(item, ClassType): # use this for old class types (before 3.0)
        if isinstance(item, type):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isClass = [i for i in isClass if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, ListType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isList = [i for i in isList if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, TupleType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isTuple = [i for i in isTuple if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, DictType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isDict = [i for i in isDict if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, IntType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isInt = [i for i in isInt if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, FloatType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isFloat = [i for i in isFloat if i != 'item']

        elif isinstance(item, StringType):
            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            isString = [i for i in isString if i != 'item']

            for k, v in list(locals().iteritems()):
                if v is item:
                    mapping_as_str = k
            other = [i for i in other if i != 'item']

    except (TypeError, AttributeError), e:
        print e

print 'n isClass:', len(isClass), isClass
print '  isList:', len(isList), isList
print ' isTuple:', len(isTuple), isTuple
print '  isDict:', len(isDict), isDict
print '   isInt:', len(isInt), isInt
print ' isFloat:', len(isFloat), isFloat
print 'isString:', len(isString), isString
print '   other:', len(other), other

# my output and the output I wanted
MIXED_DATA_TYPES total count: 14

 isClass: 2 ['Class_1', 'Class_2']
  isList: 2 ['list_1', 'list_2']
 isTuple: 2 ['tuple_1', 'tuple_2']
  isDict: 2 ['dict_1', 'dict_2']
   isInt: 2 ['x', 'y']
 isFloat: 2 ['pie', 'eee']
isString: 2 ['house', 'cabin']
   other: 0 []
Answered By: Michael Swartz

I find that if you already have a specific list of values, that the way described by @S. Lotts is the best; however, the way described below works well to get all variables and Classes added throughout the code WITHOUT the need to provide variable name though you can specify them if you want. Code can be extend to exclude Classes.

import types
import math  # mainly showing that you could import what you will before d

# Everything after this counts
d = dict(globals())

def kv_test(k,v):
    return (k not in d and 
            k not in ['d','args'] and
            type(v) is not types.FunctionType)

def magic_print(*args):
    if len(args) == 0: 
        return {k:v for k,v in globals().iteritems() if kv_test(k,v)}
        return {k:v for k,v in magic_print().iteritems() if k in args}

if __name__ == '__main__':
    foo = 1
    bar = 2
    baz = 3
    print magic_print()
    print magic_print('foo')
    print magic_print('foo','bar')


{'baz': 3, 'foo': 1, 'bar': 2}
{'foo': 1}
{'foo': 1, 'bar': 2}
Answered By: cdhagmann

In python 3 this is easy

myVariable = 5
for v in locals():
  if id(v) == id("myVariable"):
    print(v, locals()[v])

this will print:

myVariable 5

Answered By: officialhopsof

Python3. Use inspect to capture the calling local namespace then use ideas presented here. Can return more than one answer as has been pointed out.

def varname(var):
  import inspect
  frame = inspect.currentframe()
  var_id = id(var)
  for name in frame.f_back.f_locals.keys():
      if id(eval(name)) == var_id:
Answered By: vvxxii

you can use easydict

>>> from easydict import EasyDict as edict
>>> d = edict({'foo':3, 'bar':{'x':1, 'y':2}})
>>> d = edict(foo=3)

another example:

>>> d = EasyDict(log=False)
>>> d.debug = True
>>> d.items()
[('debug', True), ('log', False)]
Answered By: Eli

On python3, this function will get the outer most name in the stack:

import inspect

def retrieve_name(var):
        Gets the name of var. Does it from the out most frame inner-wards.
        :param var: variable to get name from.
        :return: string
        for fi in reversed(inspect.stack()):
            names = [var_name for var_name, var_val in fi.frame.f_locals.items() if var_val is var]
            if len(names) > 0:
                return names[0]

It is useful anywhere on the code. Traverses the reversed stack looking for the first match.

Answered By: juan Isaza
import re
import traceback

pattren = re.compile(r'[W+w+]*get_variable_name((w+))')
def get_variable_name(x):
    return pattren.match( traceback.extract_stack(limit=2)[0][3]) .group(1)

a = 1
b = a
c = b
print get_variable_name(a)
print get_variable_name(b)
print get_variable_name(c)
Answered By: xmduhan
>>> a = 1
>>> b = 1
>>> id(a)
>>> id(b)
>>> a is b
>>> id(a) == id(b)

this way get varname for a maybe ‘a’ or ‘b’.

Answered By: su dazhuang

Here’s the function I created to read the variable names. It’s more general and can be used in different applications:

def get_variable_name(*variable):
    '''gets string of variable name
        variable (str)
    if len(variable) != 1:
        raise Exception('len of variables inputed must be 1')
        return [k for k, v in locals().items() if v is variable[0]][0]
        return [k for k, v in globals().items() if v is variable[0]][0]

To use it in the specified question:

>>> foo = False
>>> bar = True
>>> my_dict = {get_variable_name(foo):foo, 
>>> my_dict
{'bar': True, 'foo': False}
Answered By: cacti5

I wrote a neat little useful function based on the answer to this question. I’m putting it here in case it’s useful.

def what(obj, callingLocals=locals()):
    quick function to print name of input and value. 
    If not for the default-Valued callingLocals, the function would always
    get the name as "obj", which is not what I want.    
    for k, v in list(callingLocals.items()):
         if v is obj:
            name = k
    print(name, "=", obj)


>> a = 4
>> what(a)
a = 4
Answered By: aquirdturtle

While this is probably an awful idea, it is along the same lines as rlotun’s answer but it’ll return the correct result more often.

import inspect
def getVarName(getvar):
  frame = inspect.currentframe()
  callerLocals = frame.f_back.f_locals
  for k, v in list(callerLocals.items()):
    if v is getvar():
        callerLocals[k] = v
      except NameError:
        callerLocals[k] = v
        del frame
        return k
  del frame

You call it like this:

bar = True
foo = False
bean = False
fooName = getVarName(lambda: foo)
print(fooName) # prints "foo"
Answered By: Phylliida

I uploaded a solution to pypi. It’s a module defining an equivalent of C#’s nameof function.

It iterates through bytecode instructions for the frame its called in, getting the names of variables/attributes passed to it. The names are found in the .argrepr of LOAD instructions following the function’s name.

Answered By: user7340830

should get list then return

def get_var_name(**kwargs):
    """get variable name
        get_var_name(var = var)
        [str] -- var name
    return list(kwargs.keys())[0]
Answered By: paulg

I wrote the package sorcery to do this kind of magic robustly. You can write:

from sorcery import dict_of

my_dict = dict_of(foo, bar)
Answered By: Alex Hall

It will not return the name of variable but you can create dictionary from global variable easily.

class CustomDict(dict):
    def __add__(self, other):
        return CustomDict({**self, **other})

class GlobalBase(type):
    def __getattr__(cls, key):
        return CustomDict({key: globals()[key]})

    def __getitem__(cls, keys):
        return CustomDict({key: globals()[key] for key in keys})

class G(metaclass=GlobalBase):

x, y, z = 0, 1, 2

print('method 1:', G['x', 'y', 'z']) # Outcome: method 1: {'x': 0, 'y': 1, 'z': 2}
print('method 2:', G.x + G.y + G.z) # Outcome: method 2: {'x': 0, 'y': 1, 'z': 2}
Answered By: user5828964

With python-varname you can easily do it:

pip install python-varname

from varname import Wrapper

foo = Wrapper(True)
bar = Wrapper(False)

your_dict = { val.value for val in (foo, bar)}


# {'foo': True, 'bar': False}

Disclaimer: I’m the author of that python-varname library.

Answered By: Panwen Wang
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