Python: find closest string (from a list) to another string

algorithmlistpythonstring

Let's say I have a string "Hello" and a list

words = ['hello', 'Hallo', 'hi', 'house', 'key', 'screen', 'hallo','question', 'Hallo', 'format']

How can I find the n words that are the closest to "Hello" and present in the list words ?

In this case, we would have ['hello', 'hallo', 'Hallo', 'hi', 'format'...]

So the strategy is to sort the list words from the closest word to the furthest.

I thought about something like this

word = 'Hello'
for i, item in enumerate(words):
    if lower(item) > lower(word):
      ...

but it's very slow in large lists.

UPDATE
difflib works but it's very slow also. (words list has 630000+ words inside (sorted and one per line)). So checking the list takes 5 to 7 seconds for every search for closest word!

Best Solution

Use difflib.get_close_matches.

>>> words = ['hello', 'Hallo', 'hi', 'house', 'key', 'screen', 'hallo', 'question', 'format']
>>> difflib.get_close_matches('Hello', words)
['hello', 'Hallo', 'hallo']

Please look at the documentation, because the function returns 3 or less closest matches by default.