MySQL 5.5 Reference Manual Including MySQL NDB Cluster 7.2 Reference Guide

11.2.3 The TIME Type

MySQL retrieves and displays TIME values in 'hh:mm:ss' format (or 'hhh:mm:ss' format for large hours values). TIME values may range from '-838:59:59' to '838:59:59'. The hours part may be so large because the TIME type can be used not only to represent a time of day (which must be less than 24 hours), but also elapsed time or a time interval between two events (which may be much greater than 24 hours, or even negative).

MySQL recognizes TIME values in several formats, described in Section 9.1.3, “Date and Time Literals”. Some of these formats can include a trailing fractional seconds part in up to microseconds (6 digits) precision. Although this fractional part is recognized, it is discarded from values stored into TIME columns. For information about fractional seconds support in MySQL, see Section 11.2.7, “Fractional Seconds in Time Values”.

Be careful about assigning abbreviated values to a TIME column. MySQL interprets abbreviated TIME values with colons as time of the day. That is, '11:12' means '11:12:00', not '00:11:12'. MySQL interprets abbreviated values without colons using the assumption that the two rightmost digits represent seconds (that is, as elapsed time rather than as time of day). For example, you might think of '1112' and 1112 as meaning '11:12:00' (12 minutes after 11 o'clock), but MySQL interprets them as '00:11:12' (11 minutes, 12 seconds). Similarly, '12' and 12 are interpreted as '00:00:12'.

By default, values that lie outside the TIME range but are otherwise valid are clipped to the closest endpoint of the range. For example, '-850:00:00' and '850:00:00' are converted to '-838:59:59' and '838:59:59'. Invalid TIME values are converted to '00:00:00'. Note that because '00:00:00' is itself a valid TIME value, there is no way to tell, from a value of '00:00:00' stored in a table, whether the original value was specified as '00:00:00' or whether it was invalid.

For more restrictive treatment of invalid TIME values, enable strict SQL mode to cause errors to occur. See Section 5.1.10, “Server SQL Modes”.