12.8.1. 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 12.4.5.6, “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 quotation marks 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)

The description for SHOW COLUMNS provides more information about the output columns (see Section 12.4.5.6, “SHOW COLUMNS Syntax”).

If the data types differ from what you expect them to be based on a CREATE TABLE statement, note that MySQL sometimes changes data types when you create or alter a table. The conditions under which this occurs are described in Section 12.1.14.2, “Silent Column Specification Changes”.

The DESCRIBE statement is provided for compatibility with Oracle.

The SHOW CREATE TABLE, SHOW TABLE STATUS, and SHOW INDEX statements also provide information about tables. See Section 12.4.5, “SHOW Syntax”.

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