How do you sort a dictionary by value?


I often have to sort a dictionary, consisting of keys & values, by value. For example, I have a hash of words and respective frequencies, that I want to order by frequency.

There is a SortedList which is good for a single value (say frequency), that I want to map it back to the word.

SortedDictionary orders by key, not value. Some resort to a custom class, but is there a cleaner way?

This question is tagged with c# .net sorting dictionary

~ Asked on 2008-08-02 00:40:58

19 Answers



using System.Linq.Enumerable;
List<KeyValuePair<string, string>> myList = aDictionary.ToList();

    delegate(KeyValuePair<string, string> pair1,
    KeyValuePair<string, string> pair2)
        return pair1.Value.CompareTo(pair2.Value);

Since you're targeting .NET 2.0 or above, you can simplify this into lambda syntax -- it's equivalent, but shorter. If you're targeting .NET 2.0 you can only use this syntax if you're using the compiler from Visual Studio 2008 (or above).

var myList = aDictionary.ToList();

myList.Sort((pair1,pair2) => pair1.Value.CompareTo(pair2.Value));

~ Answered on 2008-08-02 01:15:42



Dictionary<string, int> myDict = new Dictionary<string, int>();
myDict.Add("one", 1);
myDict.Add("four", 4);
myDict.Add("two", 2);
myDict.Add("three", 3);

var sortedDict = from entry in myDict orderby entry.Value ascending select entry;

This would also allow for great flexibility in that you can select the top 10, 20 10%, etc. Or if you are using your word frequency index for type-ahead, you could also include StartsWith clause as well.

~ Answered on 2008-08-04 15:22:03


var ordered = dict.OrderBy(x => x.Value).ToDictionary(x => x.Key, x => x.Value);

~ Answered on 2010-11-11 17:16:38


Looking around, and using some C# 3.0 features we can do this:

foreach (KeyValuePair<string,int> item in keywordCounts.OrderBy(key=> key.Value))
    // do something with item.Key and item.Value

This is the cleanest way I've seen and is similar to the Ruby way of handling hashes.

~ Answered on 2008-08-02 00:43:38


You can sort a Dictionary by value and save it back to itself (so that when you foreach over it the values come out in order):

dict = dict.OrderBy(x => x.Value).ToDictionary(x => x.Key, x => x.Value);

Sure, it may not be correct, but it works.

~ Answered on 2011-06-22 10:26:16


On a high level, you have no other choice than to walk through the whole Dictionary and look at each value.

Maybe this helps: Copy/Pasting from John Timney:

Dictionary<string, string> s = new Dictionary<string, string>();
s.Add("1", "a Item");
s.Add("2", "c Item");
s.Add("3", "b Item");

List<KeyValuePair<string, string>> myList = new List<KeyValuePair<string, string>>(s);
    delegate(KeyValuePair<string, string> firstPair,
    KeyValuePair<string, string> nextPair)
        return firstPair.Value.CompareTo(nextPair.Value);

~ Answered on 2008-08-02 00:47:48


You'd never be able to sort a dictionary anyway. They are not actually ordered. The guarantees for a dictionary are that the key and value collections are iterable, and values can be retrieved by index or key, but there is no guarantee of any particular order. Hence you would need to get the name value pair into a list.

~ Answered on 2008-12-19 22:47:08


You do not sort entries in the Dictionary. Dictionary class in .NET is implemented as a hashtable - this data structure is not sortable by definition.

If you need to be able to iterate over your collection (by key) - you need to use SortedDictionary, which is implemented as a Binary Search Tree.

In your case, however the source structure is irrelevant, because it is sorted by a different field. You would still need to sort it by frequency and put it in a new collection sorted by the relevant field (frequency). So in this collection the frequencies are keys and words are values. Since many words can have the same frequency (and you are going to use it as a key) you cannot use neither Dictionary nor SortedDictionary (they require unique keys). This leaves you with a SortedList.

I don't understand why you insist on maintaining a link to the original item in your main/first dictionary.

If the objects in your collection had a more complex structure (more fields) and you needed to be able to efficiently access/sort them using several different fields as keys - You would probably need a custom data structure that would consist of the main storage that supports O(1) insertion and removal (LinkedList) and several indexing structures - Dictionaries/SortedDictionaries/SortedLists. These indexes would use one of the fields from your complex class as a key and a pointer/reference to the LinkedListNode in the LinkedList as a value.

You would need to coordinate insertions and removals to keep your indexes in sync with the main collection (LinkedList) and removals would be pretty expensive I'd think. This is similar to how database indexes work - they are fantastic for lookups but they become a burden when you need to perform many insetions and deletions.

All of the above is only justified if you are going to do some look-up heavy processing. If you only need to output them once sorted by frequency then you could just produce a list of (anonymous) tuples:

var dict = new SortedDictionary<string, int>();
// ToDo: populate dict

var output = dict.OrderBy(e => e.Value).Select(e => new {frequency = e.Value, word = e.Key}).ToList();

foreach (var entry in output)
    Console.WriteLine("frequency:{0}, word: {1}",entry.frequency,entry.word);

~ Answered on 2012-12-13 06:19:09


Dictionary<string, string> dic= new Dictionary<string, string>();
var ordered = dic.OrderBy(x => x.Value);
return ordered.ToDictionary(t => t.Key, t => t.Value);

~ Answered on 2015-07-20 11:01:19


Or for fun you could use some LINQ extension goodness:

var dictionary = new Dictionary<string, int> { { "c", 3 }, { "a", 1 }, { "b", 2 } };
dictionary.OrderBy(x => x.Value)
  .ForEach(x => Console.WriteLine("{0}={1}", x.Key,x.Value));

~ Answered on 2010-06-30 11:12:21


Sorting a SortedDictionary list to bind into a ListView control using VB.NET:

Dim MyDictionary As SortedDictionary(Of String, MyDictionaryEntry)

MyDictionaryListView.ItemsSource = MyDictionary.Values.OrderByDescending(Function(entry) entry.MyValue)

Public Class MyDictionaryEntry ' Need Property for GridViewColumn DisplayMemberBinding
    Public Property MyString As String
    Public Property MyValue As Integer
End Class


<ListView Name="MyDictionaryListView">
            <GridViewColumn DisplayMemberBinding="{Binding Path=MyString}" Header="MyStringColumnName"></GridViewColumn>
            <GridViewColumn DisplayMemberBinding="{Binding Path=MyValue}" Header="MyValueColumnName"></GridViewColumn>

~ Answered on 2010-04-23 09:36:26


The easiest way to get a sorted Dictionary is to use the built in SortedDictionary class:

//Sorts sections according to the key value stored on "sections" unsorted dictionary, which is passed as a constructor argument
System.Collections.Generic.SortedDictionary<int, string> sortedSections = null;
if (sections != null)
    sortedSections = new SortedDictionary<int, string>(sections);

sortedSections will contain the sorted version of sections

~ Answered on 2010-04-02 22:36:32


The other answers are good, if all you want is to have a "temporary" list sorted by Value. However, if you want to have a dictionary sorted by Key that automatically synchronizes with another dictionary that is sorted by Value, you could use the Bijection<K1, K2> class.

Bijection<K1, K2> allows you to initialize the collection with two existing dictionaries, so if you want one of them to be unsorted, and you want the other one to be sorted, you could create your bijection with code like

var dict = new Bijection<Key, Value>(new Dictionary<Key,Value>(), 
                               new SortedDictionary<Value,Key>());

You can use dict like any normal dictionary (it implements IDictionary<K, V>), and then call dict.Inverse to get the "inverse" dictionary which is sorted by Value.

Bijection<K1, K2> is part of Loyc.Collections.dll, but if you want, you could simply copy the source code into your own project.

Note: In case there are multiple keys with the same value, you can't use Bijection, but you could manually synchronize between an ordinary Dictionary<Key,Value> and a BMultiMap<Value,Key>.

~ Answered on 2016-02-26 07:15:13


Actually in C#, dictionaries don't have sort() methods. As you are more interested in sort by values, you can't get values until you provide them key. In short, you need to iterate through them using LINQ's OrderBy(),

var items = new Dictionary<string, int>();
items.Add("cat", 0);
items.Add("dog", 20);
items.Add("bear", 100);
items.Add("lion", 50);

// Call OrderBy() method here on each item and provide them the IDs.
foreach (var item in items.OrderBy(k => k.Key))
    Console.WriteLine(item);// items are in sorted order

You can do one trick:

var sortedDictByOrder = items.OrderBy(v => v.Value);


var sortedKeys = from pair in dictName
            orderby pair.Value ascending
            select pair;

It also depends on what kind of values you are storing: single (like string, int) or multiple (like List, Array, user defined class). If it's single you can make list of it and then apply sort.
If it's user defined class, then that class must implement IComparable, ClassName: IComparable<ClassName> and override compareTo(ClassName c) as they are more faster and more object oriented than LINQ.

~ Answered on 2019-02-26 12:39:54


Suppose we have a dictionary as

   Dictionary<int, int> dict = new Dictionary<int, int>();
   dict.Add(213, 1021);
   dict.Add(45, 1081);
   dict.Add(54, 1091);
   dict.Add(3425, 1061);
   sict.Add(768, 1011);

1) you can use temporary dictionary to store values as :

        Dictionary<int, int> dctTemp = new Dictionary<int, int>();

        foreach (KeyValuePair<int, int> pair in dict.OrderBy(key => key.Value))
            dctTemp .Add(pair.Key, pair.Value);

~ Answered on 2015-02-02 10:46:01


Sort and print:

var items = from pair in players_Dic
                orderby pair.Value descending
                select pair;

// Display results.
foreach (KeyValuePair<string, int> pair in items)
    Debug.Log(pair.Key + " - " + pair.Value);

Change descending to acending to change sort order

~ Answered on 2020-11-15 06:30:08


Required namespace : using System.Linq;

Dictionary<string, int> counts = new Dictionary<string, int>();
counts.Add("one", 1);
counts.Add("four", 4);
counts.Add("two", 2);
counts.Add("three", 3);

Order by desc :

foreach (KeyValuePair<string, int> kvp in counts.OrderByDescending(key => key.Value))
// some processing logic for each item if you want.

Order by Asc :

foreach (KeyValuePair<string, int> kvp in counts.OrderBy(key => key.Value))
// some processing logic for each item if you want.

~ Answered on 2020-05-18 17:35:06


Given you have a dictionary you can sort them directly on values using below one liner:

var x = (from c in dict orderby c.Value.Order ascending select c).ToDictionary(c => c.Key, c=>c.Value);

~ Answered on 2014-05-31 22:30:00


You can sort the Dictionary by value and get the result in dictionary using the code below:

Dictionary <<string, string>> ShareUserNewCopy = 
       ShareUserCopy.OrderBy(x => x.Value).ToDictionary(pair => pair.Key,
                                                        pair => pair.Value);                                          

~ Answered on 2012-07-24 12:24:01

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