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With "cell" I mean the value of a particular column in a particular row. I'm not sure if its called just "cell" or this is a spreadsheet thing.

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For what I know, cell is used only in spreadsheets. In db that's a field... –  Marco May 13 '11 at 6:44
@Marco: A column cannot have a value, there are multiple rows. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Column_(database) or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_(computer_science) –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 6:46
@Lee Kowalkowski: I was just editing my comment, thanks :) –  Marco May 13 '11 at 6:47
Cell is not a reference to the value in a spreadsheet, its a reference to a placeholder for the value. That is why "value" is not an accurate equivalent. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 13:39

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's called a field when on a database: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_(computer_science) also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Column_(database)

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Isn't field the same as column? –  Juan May 13 '11 at 6:46
Not quite, colloquially they can be, it depends on context, but a database column is akin to a spreadsheet column. E.g. when you select a column, you're referring to all the data in that column. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 6:50
Actually its pretty clear on that Wikipedia article: Each record consists of several fields; the fields of all records form the columns. –  Juan May 13 '11 at 6:55
@Tony: Never heard of a date field? [download.oracle.com/docs/cd/B28359_01/server.111/b28318/…. To say "never correct" is absurd, particularly without reference. There are over 3,000,000 matches for database+field at oracle.com, all false positives? I doubt it. All incorrect? Likewise. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 12:51
@Tony - What I'm saying is that although SQL may not use the term field, many other database systems do, and have done for a very long time. Going back as far as dbase they were called fields, and the wiki pages for many more modern database systems use the term fields. Even the SQL wiki page uses field1, field2... as examples, so never correct is widely acknowledged as false. If you say database field most people will understand what you mean and that is what the original poster was asking for. –  Mark Booth May 13 '11 at 13:25

In SQL terminology, we have Tables, Rows and Columns. The term Column is applied to the table as a whole, and also within a single row.

In relational theory, we have Relations, Tuples, and Attributes, filling similar roles.

(Going a bit Celko here): Generally, the term Field fits into the terminology of Files and Records, and doesn't fit within DB naming.

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There's no such token as "Field" in SQL because there's no need for it. If you look up the documentation for UCASE() [w3schools.com/SQL/sql_func_ucase.asp], it says converts a field to upper case, it would not be accurate to say it converts a column. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 7:02
W3schools is not the ultimate arbiter of correctness. I would say that function converts a value to uppercase. –  Tony Andrews May 13 '11 at 9:50
Being more ambiguous/generic is not being more accurate. 'Value' applies to many things. It was just an example of a reference where some database documentation uses the term field. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 12:56
Well I imagine the W3schools definition of UCASE is less accurate than mine, unless "field" is a synonym for "value". What about UCASE('hello') - is 'hello' a "field" too? –  Tony Andrews May 13 '11 at 13:18

I would just call it a value.

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+1. A database "field" is equivalent to a spreadsheet "column". The field gets filled in with values on each row. –  Dan Ray May 13 '11 at 12:54
@Dan Ray: Saying the field gets filled with values on each row does not prove equivalence, because saying the column gets filled with values on each row would be a confusing thing to say when column can refer to all the values within the column. You're using the term field and qualified it with "each row", meaning you've referred to the points where columns and rows intersect. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 13:03
But a value is what's in the cell, what do you call the cell, i.e. the placeholder? –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 13:40
There is no "cell", no "placeholder" in a database. I would say you select/insert/update the "column" on the specified row(s). A "field" or "cell" only appears when you view the data in a screen or report of some sort. You could say I'm being pedantic; to which I would reply: it depends on exactly how you define "pedantic" ;-) –  Tony Andrews May 13 '11 at 13:53
This is turning almost philosophical. I'm not a DB expert at all, but just by common sense, if the value of a column called "A" at row 1 (where Id = 1) is 20, and then, tomorrow, the value of column "A" at row 1 is 30 because someone changed it, the value of what just changed? You might say "the value of a column at a particular row". So then can we come up with a name for that thing you refer to as "a column at a particular row"? If we would name it "value" we would have to say that "the value of the value" changed. –  Juan May 15 '11 at 0:00

In a database, it is called a column.

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So "column" has a double meaning? How do you refer to the value of a column in a particular row? I'm confused... –  Juan May 13 '11 at 6:48
@jsoldi: the value in a column is called just that, the value ;) –  a_horse_with_no_name May 13 '11 at 6:57
You could say "column value" if you meant the value of a column for a particular row. –  Lee Kowalkowski May 13 '11 at 7:05

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