How to Pronounce SQL and MySQL

One thing about working from home is that you can get to the stage where a lot of your knowledge inputs are coming from text, online or in paper format and you are not hearing as much chat as you might have done in a traditional workplace. And as new words and technical terms come along it’s possible to get a bit behind the game. There is a possible risk, in business communication with people more up to date and attuned, of sounding out of the loop.

I feel pretty comfortable about how to pronounce most English words, even the newer ones. Technical terms and acronyms are another story.

For example, while I don’t have any need to say “SQL” or “MySQL” every day or even on a regular basis, for a while now I’ve been conscious of the fact that there was probably a way of pronouncing these that technical types would recognise as being appropriate. Should it be “see-quell” or separated out into “S-Q-L”, and “My see-quell” or “My S-Q-L”?

And then there’s GUI. Should it be “G-U-I” or “gooey”? I’ve heard both and while “gooey” sounds to me, well, odd, there’s a certain logic about it.

By happenstance, today I found what looked to me like an authoritative and sensible commentary by Glenn Gutmacher, on his Advanced Online Recruiting Techniques blog.

Confused no more. Thanks Glenn. 

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.


  1. Ken

    Thanks for the comment and information. This is a fascinating example of the long tail, given that I wrote this post just under three years ago.

    Apologies to Glenn and other commenters who became “Anonymous” when this blog was moved over to WordPress.

  2. GUI:
    GUI is an acronym and is pronounced ‘goo-ey’ (as in toffee).

    According to Jim Melton, the editor of the SQL standard, the proper pronunciation is “ess cue ell,” and not “sequel” as is commonly heard. Jim also says that SQL stands for “SQL Query Language” and notes that this is a recursive acronym. In some early prototypes, SQL stood for “Structured Query Language.” That is not true for the standard.

  3. P. Baar says:

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

    I’ve been told that the person who coined the term “Graphical User Interface” also gave it the nickname “gooey”; if true, then that would be the correct pronunciation for “GUI.”

  4. Des, I’m glad my post was helpful to you and your readers. It was fun researching the answer to that “query”. –Glenn Gutmacher

  5. Whoops! Just to clarify my own comment – I’m not suggesting that being able to pronounce an acronym or two shows you have a “reasonable understanding” of a business or industry, but the suggestion is that “mispronouncing” could at least subconsciously make it a bit harder to be accepted as having at least some basic understanding. We are all so skilled at excluding, aren’t we? 🙂

  6. Frank

    Yes, I remember when I didn’t know that one either. I picked up on this whole ‘correct pronunciation’ issue because when you are in the consulting or coaching business it helps, in my view, to have a reasonable understanding of the business your clients are in. As an example I picked up on elsewhere (see link from original post here) saying “gee-ewe-eye” for GUI to a techie could, I suspect, set up a bit of mental static, making meaningful communication more challenging to achieve. And Frank, read my post on giving the readers here a link – by completing your reader profile or leaving a link to your site.

  7. Des, I sure can relate. It was not until I started listening to audio files of online marketing folks that I learn EZine was pronounced “E=Zeen” not “E-Zine” (i = eye).