+16  Q: 

SQL Pronunciation

I have a question about the pronunciation of the SQL word. In my native language (French) we used to say it like spell each letters.

I've been listening to the stackoverflow podcast today. And I noticed the usage of the word sequel to describe SQL.

My question is what is the common or correct pronunciation of SQL in english. Is it a matter of taste?

+5  A: 

According to Wikipedia, going letter by letter is the "official" pronunciation (though I hear it pronounced "sequel" more often).

Jason Sparks
+2  A: 

I think it doesn't matter as long as the other person understands that you're talking about SQL.

+1  A: 

Someone once told me that the M$ variety is 'sequel' all other are Ess-Queue-El. I don't know if thats a common perception or not, just throwin' it out there.

SQLServer is generally pronounced sequel-server, as MySQL is my-sequel. But the language is officially SQL (according to ANSI) and because IBM had a product called SEQUEL
Martin Beckett
+1  A: 

As Jason Sparks points out, you learn it as S-Q-L, and that's the pronunciation in most countries, but then most English speaking people pronounce it "Sequel".

Interesting. Not where I come from! Most people here pronounce it S-Q-L, except (sometimes) when referring to MS "Sequel" Server. Many of these types of words ("lye-nux" and "lin-ucks" comes to mind) are read, not heard, the first few times, so you end up picking a pronunciation before hearing it said out loud; you find out later whether your pronunciation is in line with the majority.
+2  A: 

I don't remember the last time I heard someone pronounce it S-Q-L. Call it 'sequel'

+28  A: 

These things are always irritating - as a breed, programmers like there to be one right answer and we like to do things right. Yes, ANSI defines the pronunciation as ESS Q ELL. Also, by way of related example, the creator of the Graphics Interchange Format reportedly requires it to be pronounced JIF in defiance of English grammar and common sense.

In my opinion the JIF pronunciation is provably wrong; creators of acronyms and abbreviations don't have any right to tell you how to speak. And so I will continue to feel comfortable saying either ESS Q ELL or Sequel as I feel like it. Pronouncing someone's name wrong, on the other hand, is impolite if you know better.

So to me it's always Linux with the sound of "in", rather than the sound of "whine", because the former is how Linus pronounces his name.

Amen! It's not "jif", it's hard-g gif!
Mr. Shiny and New
I definitely say GIF with a hard G as in gill because it sounds right to me. I don't think that pronouncing it as Jif is provably wrong. Unless I have been mis-pronouncing Gin and tonic every time I order!
" programmers like there to be one right answer " -- which is why you have to get out of that box to succeed at the business side of things. I say S.Q.L. when talking about the ANSI/ISO standard to programmers and "sequel" when talking with non programmers who are put off by excessive TLA (Three Letter Acronyms).
And those people would probably be put off by the other pronunciation as well: SQUEEL. (Though I say sequel.)
+1 for the hard G. As far as I'm concernced, if the root word (in this case, "Graphics") has a hard G, then the pronunciation of the acronym should have a hard G.
Michael Itzoe
@Michael: then how do you pronounce REGEX, Personally I us a soft g, because it sounds better. However, the root word is Regular, meaning it should be a hard G.
@Godeke - how to you pronounce it when you're talking to one programmer and one non-programmer? :)
I always pronounce the C type "char" with a ch sound, like "char-broiled". I knew someone once who pronounced it like "car". He said it was logical because it's short for "character". It sounded wrong every time he said it.
Graeme Perrow
"creators of acronyms and abbreviations don't have any right to tell you how to speak."Flubba, this may be a correct statement, but I couldn't disagree more with your intention. Having a consistent pronunciation does not encroach upon people's rights. On the contrary, it enables effective communication. You surely have the right to pronounce any word any way you see fit, but it will severely limit your ability to communicate with others.
Bobby Eickhoff
I would've thought, if you pronounce it like Linus, you'd say *Lee*nux.
@Kryalessa, it's more like Leenooks :D
Brendan Long
It has to be a hard G to warn of Trojans - "beware of Geeks bearing GIFs"
Pete Kirkham
Regarding weird pronunciations of graphics file formats, says "PNG" should be pronounced as "ping"...
Matti Virkkunen
+1  A: 

Bonjour !

I worked in a Japanese and an Irish company. ESSE CUE EL for both. Never heard of "sequel". Does MySQL should be pronounced "My Sequel"?

PostgreSQL is also a pretty hard one.

loads and loads of people say "My Sequel" as well as "Microsoft Sequel Server". Irritates me no end
Orion Edwards
Strange, I've never once heard "Postgre Sequel."
Putting what is actually correct aside, I hear "Sequel" and "S.Q.L." about 50/50. I hear "My Sequel" a lot and "My S.Q.L." almost never. I have never heard anyone say "Postgre Sequel", only "Postgres Q. L.".
Brad Barker
Post pronounced like the german word "Post" and gre pronounced like "greece" greee.Post Gree Es Q El
+1  A: 

sequel isn't ms, sequel is ms, oracle, db2... basically any real database. pronouncing by letter just spells out your ignorance.

Ignorance? Ridiculous. Reserve your opprobrium for people who demonstrate stupidity or offensive behaviour, please. Do you have a reference for your very strange assertion?

+1  A: 

I started with S-Q-L but perhaps as a matter of convenience it seems a significant number of professional programmers refer to it as Sequel.

I also noticed this same principle applied in podcast 18 (URL pronounced as "earl").

Earl? Shouldn't that be Yearl?
Heh probably :-) I still say "you-are-ell"
+2  A: 

Well, similar to laws and regulations in other areas; what you read is not always what is reality. There is proper and correct English aaaaaand there's how everyone actually speaks. For those "stackers" (I'm guess that's slang for stack overflow members) who attend conferences, listen to podcasts, or watch recorded presentations, many highly respected members of the programming community pronounce it "sequel".

In my humble opinion, pronouncing it as "sequel" will make you sound the most correct, pronouncing it "seek-el" will make you seem like a novice, and pronouncing it "ess-que-el" will make you seem, well, arrogant.

This all reminds me of the scene in "Six Degrees of Separation" where Will Smith is attempting to learn how to correctly pronounce 'bottle of beer'.

"Say 'Bottle of beer'."

Ian Patrick Hughes
+6  A: 

A long time ago IBM had a database with "QUEL" (QUEry Language). It was followed up with "SEQUEL" (a joke, since it was a sequel to the first language).

The pronunciation followed through to "SQL", which is officially "ess-que-ell". So both are considered correct by most people.

Mark Harrison
Although a lot of people will say "sequel" is incorrect, as it refers to the IBM language, not the SQL standard.
Adrian Mouat
Actually, the way I heard is, IBM's language was "EQL" (pronounced "Equal"), and it was followed by "SQL" (pronounced "sequel")
James Curran
Actuall, it was Ingres that had QUEL, not IBM. A much closer approximation to the relational calculus, too, which made it (IMNSHO) a much better language.
Yes, Ingres, which is Open Source now, has QUEL as an option (IIRC) even today. +100 to TMN for ".. a much better language"!
@Curran: no, that part is correct, it was SEQUEL. See
+1  A: 

I think either way is fine and none more correct than the other. Personally I prefer Sequel since it rolls off the tongue more fluidly.


Everyone sez "sequel", so go figure. Its totally up to you :p

not everybody says it. go figure.
Mr. Shiny and New
+3  A: 

I pronounce like this: /ɛsɛkuːˈɛlɛ/


See Quill


Sea Kwill


Seek Will

+4  A: 

The first time I heard it pronounced "sequel" was in reference to Microsoft SQL Server, so I always figured that was invented by Microsoft's marketting department.

Personally, when referring to the language I pronounce it "ess cue ell".

The only time I use the "sequel" pronunciation is in reference to "Sequel Server", though lately I'm tending towards "Squeal Server", which is just as valid.

That's what I thought as well
Yes, I find “Sequel” is a useful shibboleth for discerning when someone's from an MS background.
Yeah, it seems to depend on if people use Microsoft "Sequel" Server or not.
Brendan Long
+2  A: 

oh my god, its Ess-Cue-Ell please...

+4  A: 

The way I see it, abbreviations are all about brevity in both writing and speaking. Saying each letter S-Q-L requires saying three syllables. Saying the word sequel is only two syllables. Sequel wins for me every time.

and this is why wrong pronunciations continue to proliferate...
Optimal Solutions
As mentioned above, sometimes the intended notation doesn't catch on. Example GIF, Mono, Char, etc. I think he is absolutely right! Spelling out S-Q-L each time I reference a query would be painfully annoying to say or hear!
Nate Zaugg

As pointed out there is no right or wrong. I personally use S-Q-L since then I won't have to think twice about which spoken language I am using: "Sequel" is both pronounciation wise foreign ni swedish, and carries no meaning, while S-Q-L is easy to pronounce in both swedish and english.

My point is: if you don't yet have a preferred way of saying it, then I'd suggest using S-Q-L and not sequel, as there will be no confusion whatsoever on what you are talking about.

I personally heard it pronounced "sequel" about a year ago, and had to ask what the person meant. And I had worked with databases quite a lot before that.


I flip between SQL and Sequel depending on the context. SQL for things like T-SQL, and Sequel when I am talking about the MS-SQL server.

MySQL and postgreSQL give me problems, but I just tend to avoid talking about them.

But I also pronounce it "Squirrel" in lighter moments (where it won't be misunderstood). Which sounds quite reasonable when you talk about Squirrel Servers :D

Peter M
+12  A: 

There is one good reason to come up with an agreement on this:

"An SQL server..."
"A SQL server..."

Both are valid depending on how you pronounce SQL. When reading about SQL one can generally tell how the author pronounces it through this usage. Jeff Atwood, for instance, always uses the second form in his blog posts as he prefers the "sequel" pronunciation.

Given that the ANSI organization has settled on ESS CUE ELL then in most technical literature the first form is used.

On forums such as StackOverflow, though, you'll find both forms, and in some cases it sparks an edit war between grammar, er, "enthusiasts."

Given that most written literature on the subject prefers the first form and agrees with ANSI, then when an edit war breaks out over something such as this, the conclusion should reflect the published standard.

Adam Davis
+1 for "enthusiasts". Good answer too.
It's even worse when one person can't settle on a particular pronunciation. I've heard "sequel" and "ess que ell", and I use both pronunciations about equally. This means that when I'll sometimes write "an SQL" and sometimes "a SQL", depending on how I was mentally pronunciation it at the time, which can lead to rather inconsistent writing. :(

Is it just an American thing to try to "say" acronyms? SCUBA, SQL, RBI, GIF (I've heard gif and jif), SITCOM,...

Um, by definition, an acronym has to be pronounced as a word. Otherwise it's just an initialism.
Strictly speaking this is true, but most people treat initialisms and acronyms as the same thing.
Ken Liu
Can you imagine trying to spell out -S-C-U-B-A- every time you talked about your scuba trip to the Cayman Islands?
Nate Zaugg
+4  A: 

I work for Sybase, and I'm on the SQL Anywhere development team. We pronounce our product name as "sequel anywhere". I've occasionally heard "ess cue ell anywhere", but mainly from customers, rarely from employees.

Graeme Perrow
+2  A: 

Definitely, the correct pronunciation is SQUIRREL


I prefer to say "Squirrel"


I pronounce it "squeal"

Steven A. Lowe
+2  A: 

From Wikipedia:

SQL: pronounced ess-cue-el or see-kwul

Sequel was an early name for SQL but it was changed because of a trademark issue. I think Sequel being used again for SQL became popular after Microsoft started calling their SQL Server product "Sequel Server". If you say "Sequel" instead of "S-Q-L" I will probably assume that you use SQL Server.

The original SQL standard declared that the official pronunciation for SQL is "es queue el". Many English-speaking database professionals still use the nonstandard pronunciation /ˈsiːkwəl/ (like the word "sequel").

Mark Byers
+4  A: 

"An SQL server..."
"A SQL server..."

I have to disagree with Adam. Pronunciation, like language, is fluid -- it evolves based on common usage.

Try googling "an SQL" vs. "a SQL":

  • "an SQL": About 953,000 results
  • "a SQL" : About 2,060,000 results

Therefore, by overwhelming popular vote, "SQL" is pronounced "sequel."