How to pronounce SQL properly? S-Q-L or Sequel?

Tung Thanh
Mar 14, 2018 · 2 min read

You might’ve heard some developers pronouncing it as “S-Q-L” [ ˈɛs kjuː ˈɛl ] and others using “sequel” [ ˈsiːkwəl ]. It can start an argument anytime within the database community. So what’s the right way to pronounce it?

Image for post
Image for post

On StackExchange, there seems to be a norm that those who work on Microsoft dev platform tend to pronounce it “sequel” more, while those from Linux-y background such as Postgres or MySQL are more likely to pronounce it the other way.

According to Wikipedia:

SQL was initially developed at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce after learning about the relational model from Ted Codd in the early 1970s. This version, initially called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language), was designed to manipulate and retrieve data stored in IBM’s original quasi-relational database management system, System R, which a group at IBM San Jose Research Laboratory had developed during the 1970s.

Chamberlin and Boyce’s first attempt of a relational database language was Square, but it was difficult to use due to subscript notation. After moving to the San Jose Research Laboratory in 1973, they began work on SEQUEL.[15] The acronym SEQUEL was later changed to SQL because “SEQUEL” was a trademark of the UK-based Hawker Siddeley aircraft company.

In short, SQL was originally called sequel. Due to a legal challenge, the name was changed to SQL. So was the pronunciation, I guess.

See from MySQL official docs:

The official way to pronounce “MySQL” is “My Ess Que Ell” (not “my sequel”), but we do not mind if you pronounce it as “my sequel” or in some other localized way.

And even on Oxford Dictionaries, it’s pronounced as S-Q-L.

Image for post
Image for post

Not quite clear yet, but ’S-Q-L’ [ ˈɛs kjuː ˈɛl ] seems to be more official.

Sometimes I heard ‘squirrel’.

Tableplus

A modern, native tool with elegant UI that allows you to…

Tung Thanh

Written by

Time thief

Tableplus

Tableplus

A modern, native tool with elegant UI that allows you to simultaneously manage multiple databases such as MySQL, Postgres, MariaDB, SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server and more.

Tung Thanh

Written by

Time thief

Tableplus

Tableplus

A modern, native tool with elegant UI that allows you to simultaneously manage multiple databases such as MySQL, Postgres, MariaDB, SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server and more.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store