SQL SERVER – What is SQL? How to pronounce SQL?

SQL is abbreviation of Structured Query Language.

SQL is pronounced as S.Q.L. (ess-que-ell or ess-cue-ell) not sequel.

Reference : Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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23 Comments. Leave new

  • Sorry, too many programmers pronounce it sequel. The language evolves as people use it. Sequel has to be added as an alternative pronunciation.

  • Hi Greg,

    I totally agree with you. I pronounce it as sequel as well when talking causally. I make sure that I pronounce it as S Q L when I am speaking formally or talking in meetings.

    The reason, I posted this as I have received this question too many times, I decided to write about it.

    I am interested to see what other readers have to suggest.

    Pinal Dave http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

  • I use both on a fairly regular basis and find most people I interact with do the same.

    Although interesting to note that I almost always hear SQL Server pronounced sequel server, while MySQL, is said My s.q.l.

    I think for a lot of people it depends which variation rolls off the tongue easiest based on the context of it’s usage.

  • Very true Rick.

    Interesting observation.

  • Rick’s post most accurately describes my experience. For MS work, everything is pronounced sequel (T-SQL, SQL Server, etc) but for most everything else I and those around me tend to use S.Q.L.

    When speaking of the language in an environment agnostic context we use S.Q.L.

    I guess the more I think of it, if I say “sequel” it directly implies an MS context. For Oracle, DB2, MySQL or another other context I use S.Q.L. I’ve never really thought about it before.

  • One argument for pronouncing it as sequel is that SEQUEL is the name of the first version of SQL, developed at IBM. It stood for Structured English QUEry Language and was only changed due to a trademark issue.

  • Praveen Barath
    August 23, 2007 1:13 am

    I heard Microsoft Web cast -They also used as SEQUEL …but i would like to inform you all guys that sequel is a word which contains its own meaning ……So to avoid a confusion Lets Spell it Correctly , S Q L …..

    What I feel is those who whould like to speak correctly then its ,

    One more example : USA , America and states represent the same , So what is correct YOU ALL MUST KNOW .

    Am i write Pinal .

    The meaning of sequel is :
    A sequel is a work of fiction in literature, film, and other creative works that is produced after a completed work, and is set in the same “universe” but at a later time.

  • Hi,

    Let us know all the sql progrems by the help of video……by step and step than we can progress and learn more form your site……..make easy to learn and can do self by see in video programe……….


  • Hi,

    SQL is a Language designed specificaly for communicating with database. There are not many keywords so SQL is simple to understand but, despite its apparent simplicity, is a powerful language.


  • I have worked with SQL long before Microsoft bought Sybase’s SQL DB engine and rebranded it MS-SQL. I continue to refuse to use Microsoft products because they are of low quality and high cost, and I can tell you that neither myself nor any of my unix colleagues pronounce it Ess Queue Elle, for 2 reasons:

    1) The original language was called sequel
    2) It’s easier to say than Ess Queue Elle

    Anybody who tells you that you must pronounce it one way or the other is a techno-fascist who should be challenged at every opportunity.

    PS: How do you pronounce SCSI, or JPG, or GIF, or WYSIWYG, or …

    It really doesn’t matter as long as you get your point across, does it?

  • Azim
    This is SQL and that is all

  • I found this a bit amusing. I remember reading about how to pronounce SQL in an official Microsoft book.

    Transact-SQL Reference
    Microsoft SQL Server, for Windows NT

    “Before You Begin

    Microsoft(r) SQL Server (pronounced “Sequel” Server) provides a powerful client-server platform…”

    Okay, it’s old, but that’s some hardcore authority!

    For a beginner, is it easier for them to say S.Q.L, or Sequel? I’d say S.Q.L …. only after they’ve read an official book, will they start calling it Sequel. And that is not evolution.

  • “Today, I plan to work on an SQL server.” (S-Q-L)

    “Tomorrow, I will make plans for a SQL server.” (sequal)

    It does matter. I’ll be glad when there is one, correct answer.

  • Structured English QUery Language

    it used to be called SEQUEL when it was first created.

  • Brian Tkatch
    July 31, 2009 5:39 pm

    According to Oracle’s documentation:

    “The language, Structured English Query Language (SEQUEL) was developed by IBM Corporation, Inc., to use Codd’s model. SEQUEL later became SQL (still pronounced “sequel”).”

    IBM’s documentation: , however, always says “an SQL statement” which means that they pronounce it “es queue el” because the first “e” causes the “an”. When pronounced “sequel” it would be “a SQL statement”.

    Most people i know say “sequel server”. Probably because it is easier to say. “sequel” has two syllables as opposed to “es queue el”‘s three. And, starting off a word with a “q” as opposed to having it in the middle of a word takes slightly more effort. This may be true for English speakers only. I do not know how it would affect know who do not speak English (as the primary language).

    I find it somewhat humorous that people think there is an “official” way to say it. It’s an acronym. Acronyms are there to make it easy. If you want the “official” name say “Structured Query Language”, otherwise say whatever you want as long as your interlocutor knows what you are referencing.

    Personally, i say “sequel”. Mostly because its easier. But also as a nod to the original proposed name, mention in Oracle’s documentation.

  • It depends

    Brian Tkatch,

    Good Explanation

  • You would think that the pronounciation isn’t important when writing, but it is. If I write “SQL Server”, why should I care how you “hear” that in your mind as you read?

    But what if I apply the indefinite article? Do I use “a” or “an”?

    “… given access to an SQL Server …”
    “… given access to a SQL Server …”

    If you pronounce it “sequel”, I need to use “a”. If you pronounce it “ess kyu ell” then I need to use “an”. If I choose differently than you, my text will be awkward to read.

    Myself, I use “ess kyu ell”. I think the reason is that I learned a lot about SQL from books before I ever heard another developer speak about it. So the first time I heard it pronouced “sequel”, I didn’t know what the other guy was talking about.

  • All of the above unless your a Techno Fascist :)

    Great Debate ..

  • Mohammad Shafi
    March 24, 2011 12:24 am

    I pronounce SQL as “ES QUE ELL” but after reading above entries I have changed my mind. From now I will pronounce SQL as “sequel”. Its very easy to say “sequel” and sounds good.

  • I think people should read words like they are supposed to be read instead of having their own interpretation of it even based on the fact that it was once called SEQUEL, hence this can lead to numerous errors. If we pronouced every word a diffent way that it’s sopposed to be spelled it would be hell.


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