Names for tables, databases, and columns - Amazon Athena

Names for tables, databases, and columns

Use these tips for naming items in Athena.

Use lower case for table names and table column names in Athena

Athena accepts mixed case in DDL and DML queries, but lower cases the names when it executes the query. For this reason, avoid using mixed case for table or column names, and do not rely on casing alone in Athena to distinguish such names. For example, if you use a DDL statement to create a column named Castle, the column created will be lowercased to castle. If you then specify the column name in a DML query as Castle or CASTLE, Athena will lowercase the name for you to run the query, but display the column heading using the casing that you chose in the query.

Database, table, and column names must be less than or equal to 255 characters long.

Special characters

Special characters other than underscore (_) are not supported. For more information, see the Apache Hive LanguageManual DDL documentation.


Although you may succeed in creating table, view, database, or column names that contain special characters other than underscore by enclosing them in backtick (`) characters, subsequent DDL or DML queries that reference them can fail.

Names that begin with an underscore

When creating tables, use backticks to enclose table, view, or column names that begin with an underscore. For example:

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `_myunderscoretable`( `_id` string, `_index` string) LOCATION 's3://my-athena-data/'

Table, view, or column names that begin with numbers

When running SELECT, CTAS, or VIEW queries, put quotation marks around identifiers like table, view, or column names that start with a digit. For example:

CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW "123view" AS SELECT "123columnone", "123columntwo" FROM "234table"

Column names and complex types

For complex types, only alphanumeric characters, underscore (_), and period (.) are allowed in column names. To create a table and mappings for keys that have restricted characters, you can use a custom DDL statement. For more information, see the article Create tables in Amazon Athena from nested JSON and mappings using JSONSerDe in the AWS Big Data Blog.

Reserved words

Certain reserved words in Athena must be escaped. To escape reserved keywords in DDL statements, enclose them in backticks (`). To escape reserved keywords in SQL SELECT statements and in queries on views, enclose them in double quotes ('').

For more information, see Reserved keywords.