Posted on One min read

If you’ve been around databases for any length of time, you may already know that SQL stands for Structured Query Language. You may also know that SQL is usually pronounced “sequel”, not “squell” or “ess que ell” (or worse). But you may not know how this decidedly non-phonetic pronunciation became the de facto standard.

As usual, laywers are to blame.

When the query language that became known as SQL was first developed by IBM in the 1970’s, the language was known as SEQUEL, short for Structured English QUEry Language. However, to IBM’s chagrin, SEQUEL was already a trademark of a English aircraft manufacturer. So to avoid legal difficulties, the “English” was dropped from the acronym, and SEQUEL became SQL. But since everyone at IBM was already used to calling the language “sequel”, the pronunciation persevered even after the name change.

Which is why if you’re talking to a database guru and refer to “ess que ell”, he will look at you like you are an absolute idiot.

Originally posted on the Sql For Developers blog.