Rename our Database

4 min read

Naming products is hard. We wrote the world's first version controlled SQL database, which we called Dolt. We named it that way to pay homage to how Linus Torvalds says he named git:

Torvalds sarcastically quipped about the name git (which means "unpleasant person" in British English slang): "I'm an egotistical bastard, and I name all my projects after myself. First 'Linux', now 'git'."

We wanted a word meaning "idiot", starting with D for Data, short enough to type on the command line, and not taken in the standard command line lexicon. So, dolt. We had to explain this often enough that we made a FAQ entry for it.


But while a lot of people like the name once they understand the reference (or even before), it also inspires a surprising amount of criticism. Here's some typical noise on Reddit:

dolt name criticism

The name has some other issues too:

  • In sans serif fonts it looks like "Do It"
  • Hard for some non-English-speakers to say
  • "DoltHub" sounds a lot like "adulthub", which is, well let's just say we aren't going to link to it from the blog

We're almost five years into the name, so it's unlikely we'll actually change it. But just for fun, let's talk about some alternate product names we think are pretty good. If people feel really strongly about any of them we might entertain a switch.


Dolt looks like MySQL from the outside, to clients. But underneath it's a custom storage and query engine we built to make diffs and merges fast. Or in other words, "MySQL (business) in the front, Git (party) in the back": MulletDB.

our CEO in a mullet

That's our founder and CEO as a younger man, and I think you'll agree he's rocking a pretty profound mullet here. So we have a built-in mascot for this name, which is a big marketing plus.

Name ranking: B+


It's easy to pronounce, and it's a decent pun on git's rebase capabilities. Plus people love to rebase things, and they love to get into fights about whether it's better to rebase or merge.

merge rebase

Cons: We haven't actually implemented a full rebase command yet (it's on our roadmap). And besides being very generic sounding (wow you named your database product "database"), this name is all business, no party.

Name ranking: C


Dolt is like Git and MySQL had a baby. It's like a multi-player version of MySQL, where you can give a copy to your friend and merge any changes they make back into your copy with no fuss. So what do you call a MySQL you can share? OurSQL of course.

A bunch of people have had this same idea for a joke in the 29 years since MySQL launched.

our SQL

Not going to lie, this name is pretty great. It makes me kind of jealous that we didn't think of it when we were first talking names. The only real issue is that because it's such an obvious riff on MySQL, a bunch of other people have named things OurSQL over the decades, like this python library (last updated 2010) and this podcast (last updated 2017). There's even a github project by this name that promises to put MySQL on the blockchain, which, the less we speak of this the better.

We don't like being sued, and we don't like having to buy domain names other people are squatting. But that's the only thing keeping this name out of the S tier.

Name ranking: A-


When we realized that Dolt had some problems in some font faces, we briefly considered renaming it another D word in keeping with the original naming convention. Around this same time, one of our founders whipped up a Vim plugin for editing Dolt tables that he called Dim. What about that for a name?

dim bulb

In principle this name has all the positives of Dolt but with fewer downsides. So why don't I like it? It just feels a little bit flat to me, like it's missing soul, I don't know. Also, the dim tool has been lost to the sands of time, never to be seen again.

Name ranking: D+


In line with the "sharing" theme of OurSQL, we thought it would be pretty memorable to name the database after the father of sharing (at gunpoint if necessary), good old Karl Marx: MarxDB.

Marx with laser eyes

There are some pretty obvious downsides to this, such as naming a product after the father of an ideology that has killed tens of millions of people. On the other hand, it's pretty clear that most of the under-30 crowd have no notion of the horrors of communism, so Marx and socialism are cool again (real communism has never been attempted right guys?). Plus there are a bunch of great slogans that write themselves, e.g. "Rise up and seize the schemas of production!"

And we aren't alone in thinking that Dolt has socialist sharing vibes, as we discovered when we got some clicks from this discussion on the socialist programmers subreddit, which is a real thing.

socialist reddit

We sincerely hope these fine revolutionaries are the very last with their backs against the wall when the time comes.

Name ranking: C+

Other great names in the open source database space

Briefly, I want to call out a few other open source database players that we think have very cool names and / or branding. Hats off to these products.

gun db

Gun is a distributed database with a provocative name and a great logo. The static image doesn't do the logo justice: click the link to see how futuristic and cool the logo looks with a little animation.

Name ranking: A


Neon is a Postgres product that uses a copy-on write storage engine to separate compute from storage, and make it possible to branch the data. (They can't diff or merge data though, that's a Dolt-only feature). We like what they did with the postgres elephant mascot and bright colors. And the name is first-rate.

Name ranking: B


PlanetScale is a MySQL offering with automatic sharding to make it scale with no effort. The name is great (if a little basic), clearly stating their value proposition. The branding is a little plain for our tastes, but they probably just don't want to scare off enterprise customers with too many colors.

Name ranking: B+


Naming is important, but there are probably more important things for a tech product. We like that our name gets people talking, but our customers aren't here for the name, they're here for Dolt's unique version control features. We probably aren't going to change the name. But if we did, what should we choose?

Have questions about Dolt, or want to argue about the name? Join us on Discord to talk to our engineering team and meet other Dolt users.



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