This short article teaches you 3 ways of reversing a Python list.
Here are 3 simple ways in which you can reverse a Python 🐍 list:
>>> lst = [42, 73, 0] >>> rev1 = reversed(lst) >>> rev2 = lst[::-1] >>> lst.reverse()
Let's see how they are different.
reversed accepts a sequence and returns an object that knows how to iterate over that sequence in reverse order.
Notice it doesn't return a list:
>>> reversed(lst) <list_reverseiterator object at 0x00000241D77BD520>
list_reverseiterator object that is returned is “linked” to the original list...
So, if you change the original list, the reverse iterator will notice:
>>> lst = [42, 73, 0] >>> rev = reversed(lst) >>> lst = 999999 # Change something in the original list. >>> for n in rev: # Go over the reverse iterator. ... print(n) ... 0 999999 # This was changed as well. 42
The slicing syntax with brackets
 and colons
: accepts a “step” that can be negative.
If the “start” and “stop” are omitted and the “step” is -1, we get a copy in the reverse order:
>>> lst = [42, 73, 0] >>> lst[::-1] [0, 73, 42]
Slices in Python 🐍 are regular objects, so you can also name them. Thus, you could go as far as creating a named slice to reverse lists, and then use it:
>>> lst [42, 73, 0] >>> reverse = slice(None, None, -1) >>> lst[reverse] [0, 73, 42]
Notice that slices are not “linked” to the original list. That's because slicing creates a copy of the list. So, if you change the elements in a given index, the reversed list will not notice:
>>> lst = [42, 73, 0] # Original list. >>> rev = lst[::-1] # Reverse copy. >>> lst = 999999 # Change something in the original. >>> rev # The copy didn't notice. [0, 73, 42]
Slicing is very powerful and useful, and that is why I wrote a whole chapter of my free book “Pydon'ts” on the subject.
Lists have a method
.reverse that reverses the list in place.
What this means is that you do not get a return value with the reversed list...
Instead, the list itself gets flipped around 🙃
>>> lst = [42, 73, 0] >>> lst.reverse() >>> lst [0, 73, 42]
Here is a quick summary:
Reverse a Python list with:
reversedthat will notice changes to the original list;
[::-1]that creates a copy of the original list; and
.reversethat reverses a list in place.
I hope you learned something new! If you did, consider following the footsteps of the readers who bought me a slice of pizza 🍕. Your small contribution helps me produce this content for free and without spamming you with annoying ads.