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Query operators

The following types of comparisons are supported by peewee:

Comparison Meaning
== x equals y
< x is less than y
<= x is less than or equal to y
> x is greater than y
>= x is greater than or equal to y
!= x is not equal to y
<< x IN y, where y is a list or query
>> x IS y, where y is None/NULL
% x LIKE y where y may contain wildcards
** x ILIKE y where y may contain wildcards
^ x XOR y
~ Unary negation (e.g., NOT x)

Because I ran out of operators to override, there are some additional query operations available as methods:

Method Meaning
.in_(value) IN lookup (identical to <<).
.not_in(value) NOT IN lookup.
.is_null(is_null) IS NULL or IS NOT NULL. Accepts boolean param.
.contains(substr) Wild-card search for substring.
.startswith(prefix) Search for values beginning with prefix.
.endswith(suffix) Search for values ending with suffix.
.between(low, high) Search for values between low and high.
.regexp(exp) Regular expression match (case-sensitive).
.iregexp(exp) Regular expression match (case-insensitive).
.bin_and(value) Binary AND.
.bin_or(value) Binary OR.
.concat(other) Concatenate two strings or objects using ||.
.distinct() Mark column for DISTINCT selection.
.collate(collation) Specify column with the given collation.
.cast(type) Cast the value of the column to the given type.

To combine clauses using logical operators, use:

Operator Meaning Example
& AND (User.is_active == True) & (User.is_admin == True)
| (pipe) OR (User.is_admin) | (User.is_superuser)
~ NOT (unary negation) ~(User.username.contains('admin'))

Here is how you might use some of these query operators:

# Find the user whose username is "charlie". == 'charlie')

# Find the users whose username is in [charlie, huey, mickey]['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey'])), 60000))'C'))

Here is how you might combine expressions. Comparisons can be arbitrarily complex.


Note that the actual comparisons are wrapped in parentheses. Python’s operator precedence necessitates that comparisons be wrapped in parentheses.

# Find any users who are active administrations.
  (User.is_admin == True) &
  (User.is_active == True))

# Find any users who are either administrators or super-users.
  (User.is_admin == True) |
  (User.is_superuser == True))

# Find any Tweets by users who are not admins (NOT IN).
admins = == True)
non_admin_tweets =

# Find any users who are not my friends (strangers).
friends =['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey']))
strangers =


Although you may be tempted to use python’s in, and, or and not operators in your query expressions, these will not work. The return value of an in expression is always coerced to a boolean value. Similarly, and, or and not all treat their arguments as boolean values and cannot be overloaded.

So just remember:

  • Use .in_() and .not_in() instead of in and not in
  • Use & instead of and
  • Use | instead of or
  • Use ~ instead of not
  • Use .is_null() instead of is None or == None.
  • Don’t forget to wrap your comparisons in parentheses when using logical operators.

For more examples, see the Expressions section.


LIKE and ILIKE with SQLite

Because SQLite’s LIKE operation is case-insensitive by default, peewee will use the SQLite GLOB operation for case-sensitive searches. The glob operation uses asterisks for wildcards as opposed to the usual percent-sign. If you are using SQLite and want case-sensitive partial string matching, remember to use asterisks for the wildcard.

Three valued logic

Because of the way SQL handles NULL, there are some special operations available for expressing:

  • IN
  • NOT IN

While it would be possible to use the IS NULL and IN operators with the negation operator (~), sometimes to get the correct semantics you will need to explicitly use IS NOT NULL and NOT IN.

The simplest way to use IS NULL and IN is to use the operator overloads:

# Get all User objects whose last login is NULL. >> None)

# Get users whose username is in the given list.
usernames = ['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey'] << usernames)

If you don’t like operator overloads, you can call the Field methods instead:

# Get all User objects whose last login is NULL.

# Get users whose username is in the given list.
usernames = ['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey']

To negate the above queries, you can use unary negation, but for the correct semantics you may need to use the special IS NOT and NOT IN operators:

# Get all User objects whose last login is *NOT* NULL.

# Using unary negation instead. >> None))

# Get users whose username is *NOT* in the given list.
usernames = ['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey']

# Using unary negation instead.
usernames = ['charlie', 'huey', 'mickey'] << usernames))

Adding user-defined operators

Because I ran out of python operators to overload, there are some missing operators in peewee, for instance modulo. If you find that you need to support an operator that is not in the table above, it is very easy to add your own.

Here is how you might add support for modulo in SQLite:

from peewee import *
from peewee import Expression # the building block for expressions

def mod(lhs, rhs):
    return Expression(lhs, '%', rhs)

Now you can use these custom operators to build richer queries:

# Users with even ids., 2) == 0)

For more examples check out the source to the playhouse.postgresql_ext module, as it contains numerous operators specific to postgresql’s hstore.


Peewee is designed to provide a simple, expressive, and pythonic way of constructing SQL queries. This section will provide a quick overview of some common types of expressions.

There are two primary types of objects that can be composed to create expressions:

  • Field instances
  • SQL aggregations and functions using fn

We will assume a simple “User” model with fields for username and other things. It looks like this:

class User(Model):
    username = CharField()
    is_admin = BooleanField()
    is_active = BooleanField()
    last_login = DateTimeField()
    login_count = IntegerField()
    failed_logins = IntegerField()

Comparisons use the query-operators:

# username is equal to 'charlie'
User.username == 'charlie'

# user has logged in less than 5 times
User.login_count < 5

Comparisons can be combined using bitwise and and or. Operator precedence is controlled by python and comparisons can be nested to an arbitrary depth:

# User is both and admin and has logged in today
(User.is_admin == True) & (User.last_login >= today)

# User's username is either charlie or charles
(User.username == 'charlie') | (User.username == 'charles')

Comparisons can be used with functions as well:

# user's username starts with a 'g' or a 'G':
fn.Lower(fn.Substr(User.username, 1, 1)) == 'g'

We can do some fairly interesting things, as expressions can be compared against other expressions. Expressions also support arithmetic operations:

# users who entered the incorrect more than half the time and have logged
# in at least 10 times
(User.failed_logins > (User.login_count * .5)) & (User.login_count > 10)

Expressions allow us to do atomic updates:

# when a user logs in we want to increment their login count:
User.update(login_count=User.login_count + 1).where( == user_id)

Expressions can be used in all parts of a query, so experiment!

SQL Functions

SQL functions, like COUNT() or SUM(), can be expressed using the fn() helper:

# Get all users and the number of tweets they've authored. Sort the
# results from most tweets -> fewest tweets.
query = (User
         .select(User, fn.COUNT('tweet_count'))
         .join(Tweet, JOIN.LEFT_OUTER)
for user in query:
    print('%s -- %s tweets' % (user.username, user.tweet_count))

The fn helper exposes any SQL function as if it were a method. The parameters can be fields, values, subqueries, or even nested functions.

Nesting function calls

Suppose you need to want to get a list of all users whose username begins with a. There are a couple ways to do this, but one method might be to use some SQL functions like LOWER and SUBSTR. To use arbitrary SQL functions, use the special fn() object to construct queries:

# Select the user's id, username and the first letter of their username, lower-cased
first_letter = fn.LOWER(fn.SUBSTR(User.username, 1, 1))
query =, first_letter.alias('first_letter'))

# Alternatively we could select only users whose username begins with 'a'
a_users = == 'a')

>>> for user in a_users:
...    print(user.username)

SQL Helper

There are times when you may want to simply pass in some arbitrary sql. You can do this using the special SQL class. One use-case is when referencing an alias:

# We'll query the user table and annotate it with a count of tweets for
# the given user
query = (User
         .select(User, fn.Count('ct'))

# Now we will order by the count, which was aliased to "ct"
query = query.order_by(SQL('ct'))

# You could, of course, also write this as:
query = query.order_by(fn.COUNT(

There are two ways to execute hand-crafted SQL statements with peewee:

  1. Database.execute_sql() for executing any type of query
  2. RawQuery for executing SELECT queries and returning model instances.

Security and SQL Injection

By default peewee will parameterize queries, so any parameters passed in by the user will be escaped. The only exception to this rule is if you are writing a raw SQL query or are passing in a SQL object which may contain untrusted data. To mitigate this, ensure that any user-defined data is passed in as a query parameter and not part of the actual SQL query:

query = MyModel.raw('SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE data = %s' % (user_data,))

# Good. `user_data` will be treated as a parameter to the query.
query = MyModel.raw('SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE data = %s', user_data)

query ='Some SQL expression %s' % user_data))

# Good. `user_data` will be treated as a parameter.
query ='Some SQL expression %s', user_data))


MySQL and Postgresql use '%s' to denote parameters. SQLite, on the other hand, uses '?'. Be sure to use the character appropriate to your database. You can also find this parameter by checking Database.param.