The DELETE statement deletes rows from a table.

To delete columns, see DROP COLUMN.

Required Privileges

The user must have the DELETE and SELECT privileges on the table.


DELETE FROM relation_expr AS name WHERE a_expr RETURNING a_expr AS unrestricted_name identifier * ,


Parameter Description
relation_expr The name of the table you want to delete rows from.

Deleting from multiple tables in a single statement is not supported.
AS name Create an alias for the table name, completely hiding its original name. All subsequent references to the table must use its alias.

Aliases are primarily used with JOIN, which is not yet supported but is coming in a future release.
WHERE a_expr a_expr must be an expression that returns Boolean values using columns (e.g. <column> = <value>). Delete rows that return TRUE.

Without a WHERE clause in your statement, DELETE removes all rows from the table.
Retrieve a table of deleted rows using all columns (*) or specific columns (named in a_expr).
AS col_label In the retrieved table, change the column label from a_expr to col_label.

You can also change column labels with an identifier, but must follow these rules.

Success Responses

Successful DELETE statements return one of the following:

Response Description
DELETE int int rows were deleted.

DELETE statements that don’t delete any rows respond with DELETE 0.
Retrieved table Including the RETURNING clause retrieves the deleted rows, using the columns identified by the clause’s parameters.

See an example.


Delete All Rows

You can delete all rows from a table by not including a WHERE clause in your DELETE statement.

> DELETE FROM account_details;

This is roughly equivalent to TRUNCATE.

> TRUNCATE account_details;

As you can see, one difference is that TRUNCATE does not return the number of rows it deleted.

Delete Specific Rows

When deleting specific rows from a table, the most important decision you make is which columns to use in your WHERE clause. When making that choice, consider the potential impact of using columns with the Primary Key/Unique constraints (both of which enforce uniqueness) versus those that are not unique.

Delete Rows Using Primary Key/Unique Columns

Using columns with the Primary Key or Unique constraints to delete rows ensures your statement is unambiguous—no two rows contain the same column value, so it’s less likely to delete data unintentionally.

In this example, account_id is our primary key and we want to delete the row where it equals 1. Because we’re positive no other rows have that value in the account_id column, there’s no risk of accidentally removing another row.

> DELETE FROM account_details WHERE account_id = 1 RETURNING *;
| account_id | balance | account_type |
|          1 |   32000 | Savings      |

Delete Rows Using Non-Unique Columns

Deleting rows using non-unique columns removes every row that returns TRUE for the WHERE clause’s a_expr. This can easily result in deleting data you didn’t intend to.

> DELETE FROM account_details WHERE balance = 30000 RETURNING *;
| account_id | balance | account_type |
|          2 |   30000 | Checking     |
|          3 |   30000 | Savings      |

The example statement deleted two rows, which might be unexpected.

Return Deleted Rows

To see which rows your statement deleted, include the RETURNING clause to retrieve them using the columns you specify.

Use All Columns

By specifying *, you retrieve all columns of the delete rows.

> DELETE FROM account_details WHERE balance < 23000 RETURNING *;
| account_id | balance | account_type |
|          4 |   22000 | Savings      |

Use Specific Columns

To retrieve specific columns, name them in the RETURNING clause.

> DELETE FROM account_details WHERE account_id = 5 RETURNING account_id, account_type;
| account_id | account_type |
|          5 | Checking     |

Change Column Labels

When RETURNING specific columns, you can change their labels using AS.

> DELETE FROM account_details WHERE balance < 22500 RETURNING account_id, balance AS final_balance;
| account_id | final_balance |
|          6 |         23500 |

See Also

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