Locks a table.


LOCK [TABLE] [ONLY] name [ * ] [, ...] [IN <lockmode> MODE] [NOWAIT] [MASTER ONLY]

where lockmode is one of:



LOCK TABLE obtains a table-level lock, waiting if necessary for any conflicting locks to be released. If NOWAIT is specified, LOCK TABLE does not wait to acquire the desired lock: if it cannot be acquired immediately, the command is stopped and an error is emitted. Once obtained, the lock is held for the remainder of the current transaction. There is no UNLOCK TABLE command; locks are always released at transaction end.

When acquiring locks automatically for commands that reference tables, Greenplum Database always uses the least restrictive lock mode possible. LOCK TABLE provides for cases when you might need more restrictive locking. For example, suppose an application runs a transaction at the Read Committed isolation level and needs to ensure that data in a table remains stable for the duration of the transaction. To achieve this you could obtain SHARE lock mode over the table before querying. This will prevent concurrent data changes and ensure subsequent reads of the table see a stable view of committed data, because SHARE lock mode conflicts with the ROW EXCLUSIVE lock acquired by writers, and your LOCK TABLE name IN SHARE MODE statement will wait until any concurrent holders of ROW EXCLUSIVE mode locks commit or roll back. Thus, once you obtain the lock, there are no uncommitted writes outstanding; furthermore none can begin until you release the lock.

To achieve a similar effect when running a transaction at the REPEATABLE READ or SERIALIZABLE isolation level, you have to run the LOCK TABLE statement before running any SELECT or data modification statement. A REPEATABLE READ or SERIALIZABLE transaction's view of data will be frozen when its first SELECT or data modification statement begins. A LOCK TABLE later in the transaction will still prevent concurrent writes — but it won't ensure that what the transaction reads corresponds to the latest committed values.

If a transaction of this sort is going to change the data in the table, then it should use SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE lock mode instead of SHARE mode. This ensures that only one transaction of this type runs at a time. Without this, a deadlock is possible: two transactions might both acquire SHARE mode, and then be unable to also acquire ROW EXCLUSIVE mode to actually perform their updates. Note that a transaction's own locks never conflict, so a transaction can acquire ROW EXCLUSIVE mode when it holds SHARE mode — but not if anyone else holds SHARE mode. To avoid deadlocks, make sure all transactions acquire locks on the same objects in the same order, and if multiple lock modes are involved for a single object, then transactions should always acquire the most restrictive mode first.



The name (optionally schema-qualified) of an existing table to lock. If ONLY is specified, only that table is locked. If ONLY is not specified, the table and all its descendant tables (if any) are locked. Optionally, * can be specified after the table name to explicitly indicate that descendant tables are included.

If multiple tables are given, tables are locked one-by-one in the order specified in the LOCK TABLE command.

The lock mode specifies which locks this lock conflicts with. If no lock mode is specified, then ACCESS EXCLUSIVE, the most restrictive mode, is used. Lock modes are as follows:

  • ACCESS SHARE — Conflicts with the ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock mode only. The SELECT command acquires a lock of this mode on referenced tables. In general, any query that only reads a table and does not modify it will acquire this lock mode.
  • ROW SHARE — Conflicts with the EXCLUSIVE and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. The SELECT FOR SHARE command automatically acquires a lock of this mode on the target table(s) (in addition to ACCESS SHARE locks on any other tables that are referenced but not selected FOR SHARE).
  • ROW EXCLUSIVE — Conflicts with the SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. The commands INSERT and COPY automatically acquire this lock mode on the target table (in addition to ACCESS SHARE locks on any other referenced tables) See Note.
  • SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE — Conflicts with the SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode protects a table against concurrent schema changes and VACUUM runs. Acquired by VACUUM (without FULL) on heap tables and ANALYZE.
  • SHARE — Conflicts with the ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode protects a table against concurrent data changes. Acquired automatically by CREATE INDEX.
  • SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE — Conflicts with the ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This lock mode is not automatically acquired by any Greenplum Database command.
  • EXCLUSIVE — Conflicts with the ROW SHARE, ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE lock modes. This mode allows only concurrent ACCESS SHARE locks, i.e., only reads from the table can proceed in parallel with a transaction holding this lock mode. This lock mode is automatically acquired for UPDATE, SELECT FOR UPDATE, and DELETE in Greenplum Database (which is more restrictive locking than in regular PostgreSQL). See Note.
  • ACCESS EXCLUSIVE — Conflicts with locks of all modes (ACCESS SHARE, ROW SHARE, ROW EXCLUSIVE, SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE, SHARE, SHARE``ROW EXCLUSIVE, EXCLUSIVE, and ACCESS EXCLUSIVE). This mode guarantees that the holder is the only transaction accessing the table in any way. Acquired automatically by the ALTER TABLE, DROP TABLE, TRUNCATE, REINDEX, CLUSTER, and VACUUM FULL commands. This is the default lock mode for LOCK TABLE statements that do not specify a mode explicitly. This lock is also briefly acquired by VACUUM (without FULL) on append-optimized tables during processing.

By default Greenplum Database acquires the more restrictive EXCLUSIVE lock (rather than ROW EXCLUSIVE in PostgreSQL) for UPDATE, DELETE, and SELECT...FOR UPDATE operations on heap tables. When the Global Deadlock Detector is enabled the lock mode for UPDATE and DELETE operations on heap tables is ROW EXCLUSIVE. See Global Deadlock Detector. Greenplum always holds a table-level lock with SELECT...FOR UPDATE statements.

Specifies that LOCK TABLE should not wait for any conflicting locks to be released: if the specified lock(s) cannot be acquired immediately without waiting, the transaction is cancelled.

Specifies that when a LOCK TABLE command is issued, Greenplum Database will lock tables on the master only, rather than on the master and all of the segments. This is particularly useful for metadata-only operations.


This option is only supported in ACCESS SHARE MODE.


LOCK TABLE ... IN ACCESS SHARE MODE requires SELECT privileges on the target table. All other forms of LOCK require table-level UPDATE, DELETE, or TRUNCATE privileges.

LOCK TABLE is useless outside of a transaction block: the lock would be held only to the completion of the LOCK statement. Therefore, Greenplum Database reports an error if LOCK is used outside of a transaction block. Use BEGIN and END to define a transaction block.

LOCK TABLE only deals with table-level locks, and so the mode names involving ROW are all misnomers. These mode names should generally be read as indicating the intention of the user to acquire row-level locks within the locked table. Also, ROW EXCLUSIVE mode is a shareable table lock. Keep in mind that all the lock modes have identical semantics so far as LOCK TABLE is concerned, differing only in the rules about which modes conflict with which. For information on how to acquire an actual row-level lock, see the FOR UPDATE/FOR SHARE clause in the SELECT reference documentation.


Obtain a SHARE lock on the films table when going to perform inserts into the films_user_comments table:

SELECT id FROM films
    WHERE name = 'Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace';
-- Do ROLLBACK if record was not returned
INSERT INTO films_user_comments VALUES
    (_id_, 'GREAT! I was waiting for it for so long!');

Take a SHARE ROW EXCLUSIVE lock on a table when performing a delete operation:

DELETE FROM films_user_comments WHERE id IN
    (SELECT id FROM films WHERE rating < 5);
DELETE FROM films WHERE rating < 5;


There is no LOCK TABLE in the SQL standard, which instead uses SET TRANSACTION to specify concurrency levels on transactions. Greenplum Database supports that too.

Except for ACCESS SHARE, ACCESS EXCLUSIVE, and SHARE UPDATE EXCLUSIVE lock modes, the Greenplum Database lock modes and the LOCK TABLE syntax are compatible with those present in Oracle.

See Also


Parent topic: SQL Commands

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