Does anyone else use this little idiom?

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Sun Feb 3 07:28:56 CET 2008

On Sun, 03 Feb 2008 15:08:34 +1100, Ben Finney wrote:

>> But I like using _ because it's only 1 character and communicates well
>> the idea "I don't care about this variable."
> Not to me. As you noted, '_' is easily ambiguous. Explicit is better
> than implicit; the name 'dummy' makes it much clearer.

Assuming you're not writing code like the following:

dummies = [Pacifier() for x in xrange(100)]
for dummy in dummies:

"dummy" as the name of a variable you don't care about is just a 
convention, no different from "_" or "paris_hilton" or "shrubbery". In 
fact, to me "dummy" implies that it holds a dummy value that will be  
replaced later with the actual value needed.

If you want an explicit name, try a variation of "dontcare". Assuming 
that you're an English speaker.

People seem to forget that "explicit" just means that there's a 
convention that nearly everybody knows, and if you follow it, nearly 
everybody will know what you mean. Often that convention is nothing more 
than the meanings of words in whatever human language you're speaking, 
but it's still a convention.


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