I have a list of column names, that may or may not be in a specific MySQL database

Is it possible to query the DB to see if a column name exists? When i do not know which table it might be in?

If yes, how would I do so?

This question has an answer that assumes i know which table it is in. I do not MySQL: How to create Column if not exists?

this answer is close, but also assumes i know exactly where each column is (i am trying to automate insertion, and the column names that exist may be different from the column names i will insert in the future, but contain the same data) How to select specific rows if a column exists or all rows if a column doesn't

  • 3
    Does this answer your question? How to select specific rows if a column exists or all rows if a column doesn't
    – mustaccio
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 13:23
  • Maybe. is there a way to get only column names from the information schema? Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 13:59
  • Yes you can, but why don't you know what the table structures are? To me, this sounds like trying to Reverse Engineer someone else's database. Questionable at best.
    – Phill W.
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 14:15
  • i do, there are just so many of them, and they arent organized according to the way my client wants to insert data. i'm trying to get data from a csv file and send it to the database. some of the headers of the spreadsheet are existing column names in the db, and some are not. i am trying to automate inserting data to the ones that exist, without having to look into every table and do it manually Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


thanks to mustaccio for pointing out the other question that explains the Information_schema.

with MySql you would query SELECT COLUMN_NAME FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS; and get a list of all columns

i would add that it gives a list of ALL column names, even the ones generated by MySql

  • And if you add ...where column_name in ('COLUMNS','IWANT','TOFIND') it will return just the columns you are interested in, won't it?
    – mustaccio
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:26
  • i will try that Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 16:37

As you noted you can use the Information_Schema, and then know the tables the columns are part of as well:

    FROM   information_schema.columns
    LEFT JOIN information_schema.tables
          ON columns.table_name = tables.table_name 
         AND columns.table_catalog = tables.table_catalog`

SQL Fiddle Link:


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