What Does ‘i’ Mean In Python (Beginner Explained)

One of the most common things you’ll run into in python programming is the i variable in statements such as “for i in range“.

To keep it simple, this i variable is used as a temporary variable, iterator or filler variable to be used as an increment counter, in doing so we can use it to temporarily store an integer value of a current position within a range of a for loop.

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What does ‘i’ mean in python?

Although the variable i doesn’t specifically stand for anything, some say it represents index (idx) or iterator.

The origin, however, can be deduced that it had some influence from mathematical summation notations such as i,j,k, which were commonly used as integer iteration variables.

So, if you’re still unsure, you can think of the variable i in python as the letter “x” being used in math problems. In both cases, these variables are used in their industries because of being widely accepted in their industry to represent either a mathematical problem or in our case the increment in a for loop.

Having said that, most people seem to have seen little reason to change the i variable being used in for loops because it’s widely known, understood, and quite straightforward.

Although, the variable i is used practically across all programming languages to indicate a counting variable for an iteration loop (python for loop in our case).

We can we can still change the variable i to whatever we want (given that it does not take python’s reserved words), it could be the letter “j” or even a word such as “number”, and still perform exactly the same as the variable i .

What are the benefits of using ‘i’ in python?

Since the variable i is used widely across almost all programming languages and especially in python, with its for loop by using this specific notation we can ensure our code is consistent and congruent which makes it easier for people to understand and read your code.

Examples of variable ‘i’ being used in python

Below, we have listed a few examples of the variable i being used in python

Example 1: Using the variable ‘i’ to print values from a range 0 to 5

for i in range(0, 5):
  print("i currently equals: ", i)


i currently equals: 0
i currently equals: 1
i currently equals: 2
i currently equals: 3
i currently equals: 4

As you can see the variable i acted as a filler variable to help output the values. Having said that, you could also try changing the value i into something else, such as “number”, “test” and etc. It will still have the same output.

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To wrap it up

In this article, we gave you an in-depth background into the variable i being used in python programming. To sum it up in a short line, this variable is commonly used as a way to easily represent an index within a for loop.