So the choice is really only three way.

1) Add d1 + d2 and d1 += d2 (using similarity with list + and +=)
2) Add d1 | d2 and d1 |= d2 (similar to set | and |=)
3) Do nothing

We're not going to introduce a brand new operator for this purpose, nor are we going to use a different existing operator.

The asymmetry of the operation (in case there are matching keys with conflicting values) doesn't bother me, nor does the behavior of Counter affect how I feel about this.

The += or |= operator will have to behave identical to d1.update(d2) when it comes to matching keys.

I'm not sure whether += or |= needs to be an exact alias for dict.update. For lists, += and .extend() behave identically: both accept arbitrary sequences as right argument. But for sets, |= requires the right argument to be a set, while set.update() does not. (The not-in-place operators always require matching types: l1 + l2 requires l2 to be a list, s1 | s2 requires s2 to be a set.) But this is only a second-order consistency issue -- we should probably just follow the operator we're choosing in the end, either + or |.

IMO the reason this is such a tough choice is that Python learners are typically introduced to list and dict early on, while sets are introduced later. However, the tutorial on covers sets before dicts -- but lists are covered much earlier, and dicts make some cameo appearances in the section on control flow. Perhaps more typical, the tutorial at discusses data types in this order: numbers, strings, lists, tuples, dictionary, date&time -- it doesn't mention sets at all. This matches Python's historical development (sets weren't added until Python 2.3).

So if we want to cater to what most beginners will know, + and += would be the best choice. But if we want to be more future-proof and consistent, | and |= are best -- after all dicts are closer to sets (both are hash tables) than to lists. (I know you can argue that dicts are closer to lists because both support __getitem__ -- but I find that similarity shallower than the hash table nature.)

In the end I'm +0.5 on | and |=, +0 on + and +=, and -0 on doing nothing.

--Guido van Rossum (