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13.3.1. DESCRIBE Syntax

{DESCRIBE | DESC} tbl_name [col_name | wild]

DESCRIBE provides information about the columns in a table. It is a shortcut for SHOW COLUMNS FROM. These statements also display information for views. (See Section, “SHOW COLUMNS Syntax”.)

col_name can be a column name, or a string containing the SQL ‘%’ and ‘_’ wildcard characters to obtain output only for the columns with names matching the string. There is no need to enclose the string within quotes unless it contains spaces or other special characters.

mysql> DESCRIBE city;
| Field      | Type     | Null | Key | Default | Extra          |
| Id         | int(11)  | NO   | PRI | NULL    | auto_increment |
| Name       | char(35) | NO   |     |         |                |
| Country    | char(3)  | NO   | UNI |         |                |
| District   | char(20) | YES  | MUL |         |                |
| Population | int(11)  | NO   |     | 0       |                |
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Field indicates the column name.

The Null field indicates whether NULL values can be stored in the column.

The Key field indicates whether the column is indexed. A value of PRI indicates that the column is part of the table's primary key. UNI indicates that the column is part of a UNIQUE index. The MUL value indicates that multiple occurrences of a given value are allowed within the column.

One reason for MUL to be displayed on a UNIQUE index is that several columns form a composite UNIQUE index; although the combination of the columns is unique, each column can still hold multiple occurrences of a given value. Note that in a composite index, only the leftmost column of the index has an entry in the Key field.

The Default field indicates the default value that is assigned to the column.

The Extra field contains any additional information that is available about a given column. In the example shown, the Extra field indicates that the Id column was created with the AUTO_INCREMENT keyword.

The DESCRIBE statement is provided for compatibility with Oracle.

The SHOW CREATE TABLE and SHOW TABLE STATUS statements also provide information about tables. See Section 13.5.4, “SHOW Syntax”.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire